During my four years at the University of Massachusetts, I’ve lived in four different buildings. But throughout that time, I’ve had one home: the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.
Our office may not look like much, with its ancient brown couches, faux-wood desks and the occasional mouse scurrying across the floor. But it’s a place where many journalists have started their careers, where students learn to work together and where memories are made.
I’ve spent countless hours working late into the night in our windowless basement office, first as an assistant editor for the opinion section and later as a copy editor. I remember starting out as an eager freshman who was impressed and a little intimidated by the upperclassmen who worked there. Gradually, I learned the guidelines of editing and laying out a page. I also learned, unfortunately, to suppress my inclination to use the Oxford comma. Although I was shy at first, I slowly became more comfortable participating in lively newsroom discussions about topics ranging from the future of American politics to which flavor of Antonio’s Pizza is the best.
I remember hanging out in the Collegian office on the night of the 2016 presidential election, watching the results come in. As the hours crawled by, we were shocked by the results that we hadn’t expected or wanted. But the Collegian had always given me hope, and it continued to do so even after the disappointment of the election, at least a little bit. Soon, I pitched an idea for a special issue on student activism, so we could showcase the students who are trying to make the world a better place. Many hardworking staff members made this idea a reality. The columnists in the opinion section inspired me, as they still do, by sharing their ideas for the future. I’m glad that we are able to give students a platform to have their voices heard.
Last semester, I thought I would have to say goodbye to the Collegian office forever when we were informed that the University needed us to move out of our office so it could be used it for storage space. When I was leaving on the last night of the semester, I looked around the office, trying to cement my experiences in my mind before the physical location was taken away. When Morgan Reppert wrote a letter about the sadness of being forced to say goodbye to our office, this prompted outcry from Collegian alumni and allies, who convinced the University to give us back our home, to our relief.
Now, I know that I will have to say goodbye to the Collegian for real, and that practice run hasn’t made it any easier. I will have to leave the office where I’ve spent so many hours, and where I’ve become a better writer, editor, team member and person.
The motto that I’ve heard many times over the years is to “leave the Collegian a better place than you found it.” I hope that I’ve been able to influence the Collegian positively, and I trust the next generation of students will continue to improve it.
I have so many people to thank who have contributed to my journey at the Collegian. But the person I need to express my gratitude to most of all hasn’t actually worked there. My mother has been endlessly supportive, encouraging me when I was deciding whether to apply for a position, reading our website to stay up to date on the latest news and sharing my articles on social media.
Many nights after I finished working at the Collegian, she would text me, asking “What will I be reading about in the paper tomorrow?” I was always happy to share what I had been working on that day with the paper’s number one fan.
As I prepare to leave the Collegian, I’m excited to see what the next staff members will do, and I’ll be in that role of supporting them from afar. Next year and after, it will be my turn to ask the future generations of Collegian staff: What will I be reading about in the paper tomorrow?
Jessica Primavera was an assistant OpEd editor and a copy editor and can be reached at [email protected]