Alex Says Arrividerci

Former Managing Arts and Living Editor Alex Brandfonbrener ’23 reflects on his journey through The Student and says goodbye in one final article.

On my first night in The Student newsroom, I have a distinct memory of Managing News editor Yee-Lynn Lee ’23 showing me the ropes of the news section. We were sitting in glow of a large Mac screen, editing the Police Log: person arrested, pet lost, noise complaint. I remember zoning out, wondering  “What is this task, why do we have this…”

Luckily, I never had to do it again!

From there, I fled the news section and threw myself into the wild, wild west of Arts & Living. In some ways, it’s openness makes it a challenging section to report on: “What do I like?” is a complicated question, and writing about it is even trickier. I made a personal choice to prioritize live events over pop media culture. For example, an Amherst-specific concert featuring many students felt more worthwhile to me than a mega-superstar album. But sometimes I indulged myself in writing a negative review of a reboot, or a blockbuster thing that I had fun lambasting on the page. A&L has a bit of everything.

I feel that articles about productions and performances should serve to support, not gatekeep, which is part of the reason why I don’t usually write negative reviews. I’m a positive person, too. And almost 99 percent of the time I really enjoy what I see (and hear) at Amherst. You can tell that the performers have put a lot of work, hours of practice and rehearsal, into perfecting their act.

That’s why I hope students at Amherst continue to cultivate a culture centered around live performance. There’s real value in artistic pursuits that are free from the corrupt influences of corporate America — and hopefully there will be students to write articles about them! Articles serve as documentation of live events that are otherwise fleeting, a record to visit and revisit and that withstands the test of time.

When I started as an editor, Covid was in full swing. Classes were still fully remote, and the newsroom was a welcome respite from my dorm room. It didn’t hurt that The Student newsroom is a particularly interesting ecosystem. Positioned in the basement of Morrow Dormitory, the location is ideal, just a stone’s throw from Valentine Dining Hall. The newsroom also has a door just adjacent to a building exit, but it’s always locked! Still, people come and go very quickly, and lots of students on campus end up spending time there, sharing their thoughts both verbally and in writing. It was an exciting place for me, and I have really enjoyed my time working there.

The people who contribute to The Student are also a big part of this, and it’s hard to know where to start with the thank you’s. First, I would like to thank all of the A&L writers, whether you wrote one article or a bunch. I have really enjoyed reading your writing and hearing your ideas and opinions. It has made me a better writer: more willing to make mistakes and rely on others’ opinions when in doubt. Super huge shoutout to the columnists Alden Parker ’26, Kobe Thompson ’24, and Vaughn Armour ’25, and the collab people, who have contributed so much to the section: WAMH x The Student (Olive Amdur ’23 and Sylvie Wolff ’25), The Indicator x The Student (Gabby Avena ’25 and Sarah Wu ’25), Amherst STEM Network x The Student (Aditi Nayak ’23, Erko Sakhiyeva ’25 and Nora Lowe ’26) and Poetry Club / Lilac. I hope these projects continue to thrive, and I’m excited to keep reading.

Now for the newsroom! Thank you to my A&L comrades, Cassidy Duncan ’25, Madeline Lawson ’25 and Noor Rahman ’25: we have published so many articles and covered such a wide range of campus events with only a few hiccups along the way. The little things stand out to me: going to Val to make Val Hacks, title ideas, and controversial edits. It has been such a pleasure working with you, and I hope the section grows under your attentive leadership. Also, shoutout to Sarah Weiner ’25, a fantastic editor who is currently studying abroad.

Features editors: I honestly don’t know who is going to replace you three, because you are the perfect team. I was so impressed by the founding (resurrection) of your section, and you do such important work.

Opinion editors: It seems that getting editors to respond to the poll will always be a thorn in your side, but I wish you all the best of luck with classes and everything else. And Yasmin Hamilton ’24, I want to acknowledge the time you worked as an A&L editor. And also Brianne LaBare ’25! You two will always be honorary A&L.

News editors: I always had a lot of fun overhearing your publishing quandaries, and I admire the mission you have taken on for The Student. You are the backbone (or some other organ) of Amherst journalism.

Finally, thank you to the past and present Editors-in-Chief Lynn, Liam Archacki ’24 and Sam Spratford ’24 and the Senior Managing Editors Dustin Copeland ’25 and Kei Lim ’25. I always admired you for putting in the big hours for the paper; it gets published because of you. Whenever I need an opinion or input on some A&L thing, you were the people I went to first. I appreciate the support and insight you all have given me, and I hope you go on to do great things.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a writer to express my feelings. Sometimes it was hard for me to communicate with others and looking back, I feel like I was looking for a release from that.

Even though I still resonate with that purpose, I think that I was also suffering from a common misconception about writing: that it is a one-person job. An additional set of eyes fixes more than typos. By receiving edits, I am forced to take on the point of view of others. This is particularly relevant because there is a “reader” that receives the article. If they don’t understand, what’s the point?

In the same way, the work of journalism is uniquely suited for a group, rather than only one person, because homing in on the truth requires perspective and accountability. Journalistic integrity is not only insurance against typos — it makes articles better. I appreciate the opportunity to have participated in an organization that works to uphold these values.

And yet, The Student is only as free from corporations and American nationalism as Amherst College is. I hope the editors of the paper continue to shed light on (“Terras Irradient,” but not in a Christian, colonialist way) the work of students to transform the capitalist power structures on campus and beyond.

Thank you to everyone at The Student, let’s keep in touch, and I wish you the best of luck!