Letters from the Editors
When our advisor Saul Rubin first offered me the position of Editor-in-Chief, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take the position. It’s demanding work.
The job is a full-time one for which we receive no pay and, added to a full-time class schedule, the burden can get pretty heavy.
I had to take some time to think about it before I accepted. I weighed the pros and cons and eventually, as evidenced by my useless weekly rant in this very section, I accepted.
What pushed me into accepting was asking myself which decision I would be happiest with 20 years from now. Would I look back at another prosaic semester of IGetC classes or would I remember the time that I was in charge of an entire media company for six months?
Option two seemed like a no-brainer.
So I accepted the position and set out to build the staff. Through some rearranging of duties and promotion of top performers, I built a team out of a ragtag bunch of misfit toys and we meshed together beautifully.
First, I chose Bailey Peraita as the Managing Editor. This position acts as the enforcer as well as the organizer of my life. Her impeccable organizational skills were able to counteract my scatter-brained nature and attempts to remember my to-do list by repeating it over and over in my head. She’s a pitbull, sharp and capable, but scary enough to keep people hitting their deadlines.
Next was Jacob Hirsohn. Quiet and unassuming (except for the huge beard, may it rest in peace), he quickly showed his writing talent last semester and was promoted to Opinion Editor. A former film student, Jake’s abilities shined the most when he was tearing apart a big studio film or eloquently explaining why Kanye’s new album was good, yet disappointing. He was a natural choice for A&E editor, as well as the one who will carry the torch of Editor-in-Chief next semester, making him the fourth straight A&E editor to inherit the position.
To fill Jake’s old spot as the Opinion Editor, I needed a strong, opinionated writer. I found these qualities in a person one wouldn’t think to be heavily opinionated. Sweet and always happy, Grace Gardner is the angel of the newsroom. Always smiling, never sour and usually quiet, Grace is relentless in print, leaving many an unsuspecting challenger in her Op-Ed Duels gasping for breath and praying for mercy.
For News Editor, Adam Thomas was a natural choice. Relentless, argumentative and maybe a little too smart for his own good, Adam has a nose for news that would make a bloodhound jealous. Constantly digging in the deepest darkest corners of SMC, he brought the news back to our newspaper. Attending splinter group meetings of student governors, every AS meeting (the man deserves a medal for this alone) and even bringing the riveting Ping Pong Championship to print, Adam seemed to be in so many places at once that I began to think our jokes about cloning him were no longer jokes.
For sports, I brought back Josh Shure from last semester. Loud, clad in sweatpants and always trying to convince me that soccer doesn’t suck, Josh has all the knowledge of a sports historian and all the tact of a stampeding rhino. With a deep understanding of all SMC sports and a rolodex that could fill the Yellow Pages, he was able to find us stories that went outside the lines.
For H&L, the enigmatic Alissa Nardo. Young, wild, gregarious, and well-rounded, Alissa juggled her position here with four internships. Every union’s worst nightmare, Alissa went beyond her assigned duties as a desk editor and filled the gaping hole that we had at Design Editor. With hands in so many different pots, she’s a modern day Renaissance woman.
One other thing I knew I wanted to do this semester was step up our multimedia game. That’s where Alex Melendez came in. A common sight around the newsroom last semester, Alex was never an official part of the staff. I brainwashed him, corrupted his mind and indoctrinated him into our cult and he’s spent as much time in the newsroom this semester as I have. A perfectionist with an excellent eye for video, Alex was the unsung hero of the staff.
Also, I’d like to give a shout out to the photo side and Photo Editor Jose Lopez — a staff I didn’t pick, but one that performed admirably and deserves all the accolades they receive.
In the end, we worked together well and formed lasting bonds and memories that we’ll likely never forget. I smoked more cigarettes than any human being should (even though I quit two years ago) and may have developed some lasting stress ulcers, but it was worth it.
After this issue goes to print, we’ll all get matching tattoos that say, “Welcome to Blunderdome” — a phrase we coined for the way we conduct business.
I love each and every person on this staff like they were my own family and it’s a rare workspace where I actually like everyone that I work with.
Now this is normally the part of the Letter from the Editor when I begin to go through what’s going to be in this issue, but I’m going to leave that out for now. It’s honestly just a useful device for adding length to letters that I write at 4 a.m. when my brain power has abandoned me and left me running on base instinct.
The one thing I will say about this issue is that it’s 20 pages. It’s the longest issue in recent memory and possibly the first ever 20-pager since The Corsair switched to this format.
Why 20 pages? Because I’m obsessed with size and like breaking records. Also we have a lot of great content that I’ll let you discover for yourself.
Instead, I’d like to preach a little bit.
I was never a fan of college or the education system in general. I thought the system was outdated, archaic and sapped all semblance of creativity from the soul, producing a bunch of worker ants whose sole purpose was to bury themselves in $100,000 in student debt, then go out and work that debt off. I took pride in being autodidactic and believed that anything they could teach me in college, I could teach myself because, you know, the internet.
But, two years ago, while taking a shower after binging on “Newsroom,” I decided that what I was doing wasn’t working for me. A thought infected my brain and didn’t let up until I signed up for classes at SMC.
Returning to school after seven years of on-and-off steel factory work was strange, but I adapted quickly. Chance encounters led me to writing for the newspaper and, eventually, to this keyboard in LS 172B.
SMC showed me that a lot of my ideas about the education system were exaggerated. Sure the system is outdated and puts way too much pressure on young, budding minds to satisfy the often arbitrary expectations of professors. But college is more than just the classes you take.
You meet people that you never would have met in an everyday setting. While I may come off as somewhat gregarious, I rarely ever pursue relationships with people beyond fleeting surface encounters. I can get a bit reclusive, to my own detriment, and the words “networking opportunity” make me cringe. But here, in this newsroom, bonds are formed whether you like it or not. The inordinate amount of time that you spend with the same people day in and day out force relationships for better or worse and make people like me dive beneath the surface as the small talk tropes quickly run out.
The newsroom is also a place of infinite creativity where we are given free reign to report what we want. Our advisor Saul Rubin’s favorite phrase is “First Amendment” — the go ahead to make our own decisions. This has been the single biggest factor in our preparation for professional life. You must be accountable for your decisions. As my father says, “Ask 100 people’s advice, then make your own decision.”
These are the best things that SMC has given me. Sure, there are plenty of issues with the way things are sometimes run and not every professor is the one that will change your life and make you consider a new major, but you’re forced to interact and you’re given a chance to practice for the real world. For these reasons alone, I recommend that everybody give college a shot.
You, as this generation of students have more power than you know. Creating change is as simple as showing face and following through on your ideas. Going from steel factory worker to Editor-in-Chief is as simple is taking that first step and using the inertia to carry yourself forward.
I would like to thank our advisors Saul Rubin and Gerard Burkhart for everything they’ve done — both their guidance and their conversation. Unlike other stories that I hear at SMC, they never treated us as kids or as lesser than them. They gave us the keys to the car and trusted us to get it back in one piece. There may be some dents and scratches, but she still drives. Now, I place the keys in the capable hands of Jacob Hirsohn. I know you’ll treat her well.
And to the readers, thank you for your patronage. This paper wouldn’t exist without you. This is our final voyage.
Doing new things is scary and, until just recently, I was firmly in the camp that it is overrated. I already know what I like, what’s the point of doing other stuff that I’ll probably hate?
This is especially complicated for me, because I don’t like doing most things. I love drinking beer, watching basketball, playing video games, my girlfriend, and writing. It was pretty easy for me to fill up my time with those five things.
I don’t like school, talking to people I don’t know, or making responsible decisions. These things feel relatively universal and, in the past, I’ve refused to persecute myself for them.
Over the last semester, I learned the error of my ways. After reaching a true low point, I decided that liking five things is not enough to get a person through life and that, eventually, I would have to not only try new things, but give up things that I love in order to truly be a person.
Giving up drinking beer was one of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I love myself for it, and hate myself for it whenever there is beer near me.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not stone cold sober, or off of beer completely. I still consider beer to be my favorite thing in the entire world, and I am reminded of this truth every time I have a sip (which is still more often than it should be). Whenever I have a beer now, I marvel at how I ever could have drank as much beer as I once did. It makes me feel so heavy and so tired.
I gave up beer (and other wheat-based products) in order to improve my mental health through my physical health. It made me a better writer, boyfriend and person. But I was at my worst when I was playing video games.
I would get lost down a video game rabbit hole for up to five hours at a time, during which time I would simply stop existing. I wouldn’t return texts. I wouldn’t go outside. And I couldn’t write. And with the great absence beer had left in my life, video games were the only thing that could truly numb my anxiety for an extended period of time.
Somehow, I convinced myself to sell all of my video games. Around that time, I wrote a story about “Cora,” a short film produced at SMC that made it into Cannes. Up until that point, I would only write stories based off of my own opinions where I didn’t have to talk to anyone, due to my aforementioned distaste for talking to people I don’t know.
I loved that story, and I loved the person I was while working on it. It was the first time I felt excited or challenged as a writer in a long time. This experience, along with giving up two of the things I loved most in the world, changed everything for me.
I realized that maybe I don’t know anything about anything, including myself. And the only way I can truly grow is to be open to the influence of the universe around me. Maybe next semester I’ll even start liking school (I wouldn’t hold your breath though).
When you live on a four-year university campus, interactions are guaranteed and almost forced. You dine in halls packed like sardines and sleep in shoebox-esque rom-coms with two or three other sweaty kids. Solitude is near-impossible to find and socialization is unavoidable.
At a community college, community is a choice. We have the freedom to opt out of any, if not all, of these interactions. But that doesn't mean we should.
This year, I learned the value in having an optional family.
Community college can be a lonely experience while navigating through three-hour long classes in buildings with no air-conditioning on a 90-degree day, grabbing smelly orange chicken from the cafeteria in a desperate fit of hunger and then sitting on the bus after long hours spent in the windowless parts of the library, just trying to print out a paper which is long overdue.
These scenes may be familiar to some of you readers (hopefully not the part about the orange chicken, but we all have our low moments), but just know this trying period in our lives does not have to be done alone.
And these are trying times. Everyone is here to accomplish something within the boundaries of their own schedule and life outside of school. And everyone wants to get it done as quickly and effortlessly as possible. This mentality of “get in and get out” makes spending more time on campus than necessary undesirable and coming together with fellow students a low priority for most.
But when people do happen to meet and come together, it’s a s ecial moment in time. Forging and maintaining these relationships takes effort. And although we have no obligation to occupy space on campus outside of class time, I urge students to take advantage of being in the here and now.
Get involved at SMC, whether that means joining a club, participating in school politics or just hanging out in the smoking section. Forge your own community for the sake of your own sanity.
We are so fortunate to go to a school full of diversity. Our student body is made up of artists, nurses, parents and veterans. People young and people old. People looking to transfer and people enrolled only to improve their educations. People who aren’t sure what they want to do yet and are taking their time to figure it out. We have this grand opportunity to interact with people from backgrounds different from ours and different from anything we've seen before. Before moving onto whatever our futures hold for us, where we will soon be filtered and sorted into a place where we fit with people similar to us, take the time to learn from the abundance of characters with unique perspectives to give.
I chose The Corsair as my family and my experience has been all the better because of it. I’ve had the privilege of learning from an editorial staff who were different from me — one full of hard-asses, closet conservatives and straight up loons. And I’ve never felt more in place.
In December of 2015, our beloved Editor-in-Chief Nik Lucaj approached me as I tried to run away from the monstrosity that is the Letters and Sciences building. His pace was quicker than mine — damn me for not being 6'4" and with a grumpy attitude.
Thirty seconds after the initial chase, he offered me the Managing Editor position for the Spring semester. At the time, I would have rather done anything else — including eat glass — but it was his damn friendship, the rest of the editorial staff and my affinity for writing that made me give the aggravated "yes" that started it all.
Some of the best things happened because I said yes that night in December. I spent a lot of late nights and early mornings with those people in that newsroom, during which time we supported each other through personal and professional accomplishments. And there wasn't a better place we could be.
Alissa, one of the hardest hustlers I know and the craziest little lady, had her own radio station, jobs, and internships, and the irreplaceable zaniness to put us all on a creative streak.
Grace, the ultimate hype man, educated me on who knows how many of the social politics issues we have going on right now.
Adam. Oh Adam. I warmed up to you. He's a character with many pearls of useful knowledge I'd never even considered for casual conversation. Like I said, a character he is.
Jake looks better in my Armani cardigan than I do. He's also one of the biggest Kanye aficionados I know. His Twitter is lit, but his bio should be changed to "brilliant and blessed."
Josh is still Josh. He rambles about sports longer than I can pay attention to and has been my right hand man since I joined this newspaper.
Nik is the big brother I never had, and I will forever mock his accent and laugh when he yells at someone who doesn't know who Hunter S. Thompson is.
Now I don't want to get all mushy, but I love those guys and gals and every morning and night I spent in that newsroom or out on assignment. There's something that bonded us — not getting paid and the cold air conditiong, but it was all worth it.
Now "Blunderdome," "Take a 'P' and reverse it," "Someone say Holocaust?," keeping solidarity in mind and many other silly things have a lot of meaning to me. Out of all my semesters at The Corsair, I've learned a few things I'm glad I did and some I wish I hadn't. Regardless, everything I experienced inside and outside of these walls will always resonate. Now it's time to salute and move on. I've never been more sad, but I'm also incredibly proud of everything we did together in that newsroom.
The easiest thing I could say that I’ve learned about being the News Editor this last semester is simply this: news is hard.
No matter where you go, stories are literally all around you, constantly demanding your attention and trying to become the center of your limited time. You have to be alert to all possibilities and try your best to tap into everything that’s happening on campus. Set up contacts, go to AS meetings, coordinate with people in positions of authority who might be able to give you quotes regularly, while still keeping a cordial enough relationship that you’re not going to feel personally involved if you need to write a story they don’t necessarily like.
Unlike other sections, your prerogative isn’t limited to a single idea or theme, so much of your job becomes about discernment and being a filter for what is or isn’t important for publication.
For those that watch Game of Thrones, being a News Editor at The Corsair seems a lot like trying to become Varys the Spymaster. You have to have eyes everywhere, learn to play a fair amount of interpersonal politics, and know how to manage a network of people under you all at the same time. You’re actively working to not be surprised when someone comes to you with a tip, because you should ideally already know what’s going on. It’s incredibly exhausting.
And like Varys, it sure feels like your hair’s going to fall out and your genitals will drop off due to stress alone.
I couldn’t have lasted this long if not for the incredible support, guidance, and camaraderie provided in ample supply by the rest of this semester’s Corsair staff. Literally everyone on this semester’s team is exceptional in some special way, and I hope they know how much I appreciate every ounce of effort and patience they’ve provided me. I’m a bit of an arguer, so I especially appreciate the patience.
It’s a real shame that no one outside of the Newsroom will ever know exactly how hilarious this cohort is at 2 a.m. when everyone’s delirious and throwing out ribald headlines for the issue. For anyone who thought our headlines were ever a bit too cheeky at any point this semester, I can assure you that, at one point, they were way, way, worse.
I think the toughest lesson of this semester that I’ve had to learn is to accept imperfection in favor of speed.
It can be tough when you’re doing this because you love it and you really want to put out quality content. You never want to see your name attached to anything subpar, always wanting to spend more time writing, more time editing, and more time getting interviews. But there’s never enough time. Learning to make that call to pull it in and publish is a hurdle I initially didn’t quite realize the enormity of. But it’s a great lesson in leadership and in what it takes to get a job done.
This semester’s efforts are something I’m going to look back very fondly upon and remember until the day I die. And unless I get some rest soon, that won’t be long from now. My hair’s already falling out and the less said about my genitals, the better.
College is supposed to be about challenging your beliefs. But the way this generally works is that kids will come from the security of their conservative families, arrive at the next four years of their life and abandon previous values — maybe get a tattoo, experiment with the same sex, or start making use of the phrase “fuck the man.” I too have begun to question the legitimacy of the ideals instilled in me throughout my youth. Only the culture and community I was questioning wasn't a tight gripped conservative family, but a community of hip, progressive liberal youths.
And it's pretty much all thanks to Ted Cruz.
In light of the popularity and drama that consumed the presidential primaries, we did several “Op-Ed Duels” on the most notable candidates. When it was time to cover Ted Cruz, there were plenty who gladly volunteered to detail the extent of Cruz’s failures and why he wasn't suitable for presidency. However, we could find none willing to write a piece in his support. There was rumor of a Republican Club on campus with a member potentially interested in writing it, but that never happened, and a few days before the issue was published we had no pro-Cruz piece. Under the impression (and rightfully so) that I was a cemented liberal, my Editor-in-Chief was initially against me writing the story. But since I was ultimately responsible for the content, I started my own search for something about Ted Cruz I could get down with.
In trying to find a policy that appealed to me, it became apparent very quickly that the kind of policies he was pushing for were simply incompatible with the person I was, how I saw things and what I wanted from the world.
You're probably thinking, "yeah duh, he's f-ing crazy," but there's actually more to it than that.
His policies only seemed insane when I was considering them from my own perspective. But it's not entirely insane to want to help the poor via religious centers at a local level rather than through federal welfare. Cruz’s campaign was appealing to a group of people whose way of life was simply and entirely different from mine. His policies were not wrong — only more effective in addressing issues and maintaining values for people in other parts of the country.
In fact, I recognized that a lot of the same strategies we used to create a good paper — like paying particular attention to relevancy and what negatively impacts or benefits our audience — political party’s used to come up with effective policies that addressed their own audiences.
The way I’d been looking at the other half of the country — with a blind rejection of its values and politics — was really the same way they looked at me with my hardcore feminism and my instinctive disgust for the traditional. Half of the country wasn't crazy, only different than me.
Upon that realization, I could no longer justifiably claim the right-wing to be wrong, which resulted in a mental avalanche of questioning everything I had presumed to be correct or ethical. I made a point to constantly and compulsively consider the other side. Now I’m constantly finding newer information, communicating with people with other perspectives and experiences, finding holes in my own arguments and proving myself wrong.
I’ve written several pieces that seem uncharacteristically conservative of me, such as How feminism attacks masculinity or Why Black Lives Matter is ineffective. These arguments were largely an effort on my part to shed my own bias and to challenge myself to consider something outside the norms of my own community. Maybe this is just my version of a “college experience.” Who knows, once I graduate everything could go back to normal and I could again identify as a hardcore feminist liberal with an appetite for progress and an instinctive desire to be unconventional.
But when you write and edit enough opinion pieces, it becomes fairly apparent that there is really no right or wrong, only better and worse arguments.