Before anything else, I should thank the people who’ve made these three years with The Student truly memorable. First, I wouldn’t even be writing this letter were it not for Lauren Tuiskula ’17, who single-handedly managed to talk an apprehensive first year into writing for the sports section. Likewise, I’m eternally grateful to Drew Kiley ’18 and Jingwen Zhang ’18, each of whom saw something in me — Lord knows what it was — and offered me the chance to assume the role of editor-in-chief. This past year has been the most rewarding during my time at Amherst, and it is no overstatement to say it could not have happened without them.
To my co-editor-in-chief Isabel Tessier ’19, I can only say sorry for my constant complaining and the countless tantrums I threw at midnight in the office. That she managed not to kill me is a testament to both her incredible patience and irreproachable editorial excellence, and there’s no one else I would rather have done all this with. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, none of what The Student does on a weekly basis could be done without the effort of our team of editors, writers, designers and everyone else involved. I’m not going to single anyone out because I’m sure I’d forget someone important and kick myself, but you all have turned what would seemingly be a terrible Tuesday night — spending eight hours in the basement of Morrow Dormitory — into a time I actually looked forward to each week. I’ll miss it.
Now, since I have the chance, I’m going to get up onto my soapbox for a few paragraphs and hopefully not come off as too sanctimonious — I’m truly sorry if I do. It’s no secret that journalism is under threat both around the world. but more concerningly at home too. When the brutal murder of a well-respected journalist by an American “ally” can go uncriticized by the supposed leader of the free world, it is clear that something is deeply broken in our society. When a phrase like “fake news” has become so deeply embedded in modern political discourse, the very nature of journalism is at stake.
Amherst students often like to compare our campus to a bubble, removed from the often-depressing reality of the outside world. Though there’s some truth to this statement, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that many of the demons plaguing the outside world are finding their way into our community day-by-day. This is the case not only for matters of racism and bigotry, but for journalism as well. When was the last time you picked up a copy of The Amherst Student and read it front to back? When was the last time you picked up a copy of The New York Times and did anything more than solve the crossword? I willingly admit that before I took this position, I was just as guilty of this as the vast majority of the student body. There is journalism all over campus, but it seems fewer and fewer people actually care.
I’m sure some readers took offense to the comparison above between the diminishing role of the press and the strains of hatred that run deep throughout this country, but I stand by it. Though it might be hard to read about the countless ways America is failing, to not read those stories is to further this crisis. An uncaring and apathetic population that disregards the reality on the ground is exactly what those who seek to make this country and the world worse are hoping for. Reading The Student or The Times is not going to fix all the problems in the world, and I’m not saying it will. Indeed, it will be hard and often painful work at times. However, the reward for aiding in the survival of journalism will hopefully be a society that might, for the first time in years, take a meaningful step towards that elusive goal of a more perfect union.
If you made it through this entire article, I am genuinely thankful. Though there have been plenty of challenges, watching readers engage with our articles has been probably the most rewarding part of my experience at The Student. So, with that said, the last thing I’d like to ask you to do is to continue to read and stay engaged. Whether The Student, your local paper or a national outlet, just read. You never know what you’ll find.