Senior Column: The Daily Campus, a home for black sheep

The author. Photo by Kevin Lindstrom/The Daily Campus

What does it mean to be a black sheep? I think about this as I enter a Daily Campus Opinion section meeting my third week of college. Lights are on upstairs, and I hear the sounds of pounding feet and laughter. Downstairs, it’s just myself, fellow freshman Alex Klein and the editors, Jacob Kowalski and Emma Hungaski. In those days, attendance at Opinion meetings was light, to put it nicely. I am only there to write a piece on Storrs Center, from the perspective of a local.

My second semester, I get a taste of the upstairs. I get the opportunity (perhaps because there was no one else) to join the Editorial Board. The meetings don’t last long — we get in, pick an editorial topic, and get out. But for those 15 minutes, I see the production room, alive with members coming in and out. I want to stay and chat, but I’m intimidated. That spring, I go to the end-of-year banquet, talk to the three people I know and promptly leave. I love every moment. 

Sophomore year, I finally get the opportunity to work production and join that lively upstairs atmosphere … until the schedules change, and I am put on a waitlist. I don’t get to copy edit until the spring. By the banquet that year, though, I am taking photos with my newfound friends and missing those who are leaving. I feel at home. 

The next semester, I start designing, working first alongside Brandon Barzola and Lyric McVoy. We all push each other creatively and get along wonderfully. There’s great music and great people.

I am promoted to Associate Opinion Editor in my junior year, working alongside Harry Zehner. We jointly lead the meetings that I had been attending for the past two years. We fill the room downstairs, taking up every available chair and then some. Yet we are still the black sheep.  I see in meetings with the rest of the paper how the Opinion section is at times dismissed. Its members are weird and its takes are bizarre. I laugh along with the teasing, but internally I take this as a challenge, and I help create a great cohort of passionate writers, new ideas and creative content. We are the best section that year, by my count. 

That spring, at the urging of a friend, I run for Editor-in-Chief. I am aware of my status as a black sheep. I am a math major, I am from the Opinion section, I am nowhere near a real journalist. I interview accordingly, focusing on how I love the paper and the people within it, how I push and feel pushed to greatness by them. Once again, I get the opportunity, and the position is mine (perhaps because there was no one else). 

Two weeks later, we get sent home for two weeks. Two weeks becomes the rest of the semester, and the rest of the semester becomes a year and counting. 

Through these challenges, and through my role as paper’s advocate and steward, I get a broader view, and I see how The Daily Campus in total is a black sheep. We are keen yet cynical, we have little say in the whirlwind of COVID-19, we care about the intricacies of the community when few do. It is for those reasons that we are wonderful, and effective. We do our due diligence, and we have a great time doing it. We are at times exhausted, unhinged, obsessive and terminally online. And yet, we are always giving it our all, together.

What does it mean to be a black sheep? It means talking with C. Dennis Pierce for an hour about balancing vegetarian options with meat-light ones. It means singing along poorly to “Sukiyaki” at 2 a.m. while waiting on edits. It means writing 800 words about buildings that really resonates with a random man who works at the depot campus. But most of all, it means finding your niche group of other black sheep. I could not be happier to have made my flock at The Daily Campus.

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