It’s good for you!

If you’re not cringing, you’re not growing


Edridge D’Souza

By Edridge D'Souza, Collegian Staff

I didn’t have many expectations. “You’re a freshman and this is what freshmen do,” I told myself. “They join every club they possibly can, then stick with the ones they like.” I walked into my first meeting at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian and felt a little intimidated by just how many people seemed to be part of this.

Looking at the old issues hung up on the wall, I remember a little feeling of amazement. “Those words can come from my computer, then make their way onto an actual newspaper that they deliver around town!” I thought a few other similar thoughts, as if I’d never been introduced to the concept of printers.

I was initially surprised by just how much variety there was within the Collegian. I could go to concerts, watch movies, attend events and interview important figures if I so chose. Alternatively, I could join the opinion and editorial, or OpEd, team and deliver my half-baked hot takes to the general public on a biweekly basis.

I chose OpEd.

Looking back, it’s easy enough to cringe at old articles. In my opinion, if you’re not cringing at your two-years-ago self at any point in your life, you’re not growing. Yet, I still find it endearing. This is the college thing to do! You go to college, you dye your hair, you lose your phone at a frat party, you make some new traditions and then you join the school newspaper. Or, perhaps an acapella group. That’s just how it’s supposed to work!

I think it was even a little good for me. As a science student, it can be all too easy to forget how to communicate with other human beings. Why waste time with words when a pretty graphic can get the job done? In the real world, though, interacting with human beings makes up the vast majority of a scientist’s life. If you can’t communicate with them, then you won’t be much of a scientist.

Writing OpEds forced me to challenge myself and to be a human being. Going to staff meetings and debating the pros and cons of each article pitch, I’d find myself entertaining arguments from other sides. There often weren’t any clear-cut answers, and part of the fun involved challenging yourself to defend positions you didn’t actually agree with. This was closer to the real world, with its rough edges, messy trails and shades of grey.

I kept this up for eight semesters, and it’s been the only real constant in my college life. When the weekend hits, I know it’s time to get in my zone and start researching for the coming week’s article. Even during my busiest weeks, I would put aside my schoolwork and make myself read about what’s going on in the real world. It honestly kept me grounded whenever things became too hectic. Whenever life gets too busy, I can always just brush it aside for a moment, read some articles and start prepping a stance.

I remember picking up a hard copy of my first article and preserving it in my room. Yes, printers still amazed me at the time. While I stopped looking for hard copies as time went on, it was always a fun tradition to pick up an issue when there was a particularly hot article. I last did it for this past April Fool’s issue, and I guess I’ll pick one up when I graduate next week too.

In writing for the OpEd section, I wandered into an experience that was both fun and rewarding. On a practical level, it meant going to a weekly meeting and cramming to write an article every other Saturday evening. In a wider sense, it meant making myself part of something that lets UMass be UMass. I hadn’t initially envisioned it this way, but being part of the Collegian helped round me out and made the whole college experience feel a little more personal.

Edridge D’Souza was a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]m.