Every Sunday, during our weekly Opinion meetings, all of us would give a brief summary about what we were planning on writing about for the upcoming week. And even though my column would have to be written by Monday around 5 p.m. (give or take), I would seldom have any idea about what I was planning on writing about, and I’d usually end up writing it during the course of the day on Monday, barely ever sending it in by 5 p.m. In keeping with that pattern one last time, I’m writing this column hours before it’s due and I have no idea what I should say.
I suppose starting at the beginning is as good a place as any. For most, that beginning would be on a hot September day in 2018, walking down Fairfield Way, waiting for something at the Involvement Fair to catch their eye. But for me, it didn’t quite start like that.
Instead, it was in mid-October; I was sitting in South Dining Hall, and my friend Kate was telling me about these science-themed Opinion articles she’d written for the newspaper, The Daily Campus. I’d written articles for my high school newspaper, but after I hadn’t seen a table at the Involvement Fair for UConn’s newspaper, I had made peace with not writing anymore. After all, in high school, writing articles meant going up to random people and asking them questions for interviews, and I felt completely okay about leaving that part behind.
Imagine my surprise when Kate told me that, no, I didn’t have to interview anyone if I wrote for Opinion (believe me, I asked her several times) and that, if I was interested, I could send an email to Jacob and Emma, the Opinion editors at the time, about joining. Plus, she told me that if I wrote for The Daily Campus long enough, I could even be paid per article. The opportunity sounded cool — worst case, if it wasn’t for me, I didn’t have to go through with it — so later that day, I sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org asking how I could join. Jacob responded to me telling me that I was welcome to join the Opinion section — even though it was in the middle of the semester — and that he would add me to the email list so I could receive more information about the upcoming meeting on Sunday.
That following Sunday, I followed Kate to this building behind Buckley and next to Moe’s. Despite the fact that there’s a nice-looking main entrance, I followed her up this sketchy, wooden staircase to get inside the building and then, we went downstairs to the basement, where we found a few people sitting in swivel chairs and the two Opinion editors standing up at a whiteboard.
Since I was new, Jacob and Emma walked me through how the section worked and they asked me if I had any ideas for what I wanted to write this week. In the weekly email, they had sent a list of possible topics, so I told them I wanted to write about the death penalty, focusing on how it was racist. They told me that sounded like a good topic, and they would look over it before it was due.
I was excited to be published; it was the first article I had written since high school, and it was nice to get back into writing in a non-class related environment. After getting back edits, I finished the article and sent it to production, feeling proud that it was done.
“As I kept writing articles, I was able to learn so much more about the world around me, and, in the process, become more and more opinionated about several important issues.”
What I didn’t expect, was the next day, to find three comments about how my article was uninformed, how I clearly hadn’t done my research and how the death penalty was certainly not racist — all on The Daily Campus website. I’d be lying if I said those comments didn’t hurt; I knew that I had done enough research and I was confident with what I had submitted, but I wondered if all my articles would get similar comments, belittling the work I had done. I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to keep writing at all.
But the other thing that I learned from this experience was that writing about a lot of the topics I was passionate about would probably receive hate comments; not everyone was going to like what I had to say and I had to learn to live with that. At the time, I was particularly interested in writing about gender equality, so the very next article I wrote was about menstruation and why that should not be taboo here, in the U.S., as well as worldwide. As I kept writing articles, I was able to learn so much more about the world around me, and, in the process, become more and more opinionated about several important issues.
During my sophomore year, I became a weekly columnist, and, after much pressure from Harry and Peter, the Opinion editors during that year, to choose a column name, I settled on “Speak Now.” Not only was it a reference to Taylor Swift, but it also embodied what I wanted for my column; a place for me to use my voice to talk about issues I was passionate about, including reproductive health care rights; feminism and intersectionality; problems in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries in the U.S.; colorism and the caste system in India; and even an article about Taylor Swift’s fight to own her masters.
And as I kept writing, I also became more involved with The Daily Campus as a whole. Since my sophomore year, I worked as a copyeditor. Production is where I not only got paid to fix people’s grammatical mistakes — something I was doing for free and for fun prior to being hired — but it was also where I got to be The Daily Campus Quote Wall editor, at least for this past semester.
As for the opinion section, I became the associate Opinion editor at the end of the fall 2020 semester and remained in that position until last week, when our last issue before this one was produced. Aside from overseeing the section, being the associate Opinion editor is how I continued using my column to ‘Speak Now’ and how I met some amazing people for whom some thanks is certainly in order.
First, I want to thank my friend Kate for introducing me to The Daily Campus and bringing me to my first meeting. Also, I’d like to thank the previous Opinion editors, Jacob, Emma, Harry and Peter for encouraging me to both join the section and become a weekly columnist. I never expected to become so involved with The Daily Campus, and I definitely wouldn’t have without your support.
“From being a freshman, scared of a few negative comments on an article to understanding now that regardless of negative comments, if I put my best work and research forward into an article I was proud of, negative comments didn’t matter, The Daily Campus made me so much more confident in sharing my opinions.”
To this year’s executive team of Maggie, Brandon and Grace — you all did an incredible job this year! Maggie, I’m so glad we got to know each other this year; thank you for teaching us how to better photograph our friends in your PowerPoint. Brandon, thank you for enabling me and playing Taylor Swift every time you asked me what I wanted to listen to during production. Grace, I’m also so glad we got to be the DC stable queens along with Maddie! Please continue wearing your box during production.
And to the members of the Opinion section — thank you all for making this last year so great. Nell, you’ll be such a great associate Opinion editor; I can’t wait to see what all you accomplish next year! Maddie, I’m so glad we’re DC besties and DC stable queens along with Grace; please keep bringing your possums to meetings, make the “opinion opossum” section a thing and continue my mission to make everyone at the DC into Swifties. Also, you’re going to kill it as Opinion Editor next year (and Quote Wall editor and Art editor)!
Sam, thank you for giving me my Quote Wall editor byline and putting in my Sports Tweet of the Day on my last Tuesday night production day. It was so much fun working with you during production, opinion and editorial board meetings; you truly are the DC GOAT and I know you’ll be an amazing managing editor next year. And Harrison, thank you for being such a great co-editor, from encouraging me to apply to the position, to answering a million questions about the job, to sending me the code every time I got locked out of the Opinion email account, to handling all the section crises we’ve faced as well. You’re going to be an incredible Editor-in-Chief next year, too!
I’m sure there are so many more thank yous to members both past and present — so many people are part of the reason why I joined The Daily Campus, continued writing and became more and more involved.
Over my four years at UConn, The Daily Campus gave me an outlet where I could formulate strong arguments for things I believe in. From being a freshman, scared of a few negative comments on an article to understanding now that regardless of negative comments, if I put my best work and research forward into an article I was proud of, negative comments didn’t matter, The Daily Campus made me so much more confident in sharing my opinions. Thank you to The Daily Campus for letting me speak now.