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Parting shots from the EIC

April 12, 2019 —

Gauntlet tradition dictates that each outgoing editor-in-chief write the year’s final editorial, reflecting on their time as the publication’s head, filled with wisdom and sentimentality and self-indulgence. It’s clichéd by design, in much the same way a valedictorian speech is. Many editors dread it.

Luckily, I am a fairly sentimental person. But I feel that my sentimentality isn’t particularly articulate. I often feel that I can only think in abstruse pop culture analogies or snippets of song lyrics. I suppose it’s a remnant of my early days of social media use as a young teen, when I would post cryptic lyrical fragments as a distillation of my myriad angsts. A decade later, the end form of my expressions are different but the motions that form them remain unchanged.

Well, let’s give it the old college try.

If I hadn’t become involved with the Gauntlet, I don’t think I would have found much value in my degree. I’m happy that I was lucky enough to be able to spend five years as a post-secondary student. Being on a campus and having the freedom to explore new ideas with new people is an unbelievable privilege.

But for me, those experiences didn’t take place within lecture halls or labs. While I did fine in my academics, I can’t remember much of what I learned from any of my classes. Frankly, I’d be happy if I never have to write a line of code again.

You don’t have to love everything you do if you have something that you can cherish. I don’t think I would have been able to brute-force my way through dozens of programming assignments over the past few years if I didn’t have a place in my life that was so fulfilling, both personally and professionally.

One of the things I found most fulfilling here was the reporting I did on hatred on the University of Calgary campus. Unfortunately, there was no shortage of that over the past few years.

Hate-fueled acts of violence, like last month’s horrific terror attack in Christchurch where a white supremacist killed 50 Muslims at their place of worship, are clear demonstrations of the consequences of the radicalization that can occur when discriminatory ideology is allowed to fester. These are wicked snakes inside a place that should be dignified. It’s our societal obligation to unequivocally condemn hatred whenever we see.

I did this job for two years. Most EICs only do it for one because of the burnout. As I finish out my contract, I can see why. It’s a responsibility that outclasses both the pay grade and the experience with which students enter the job. We kick ourselves over mistakes and obsess over inconsequential details. If we don’t entirely know what we’re doing, we figure it out along the way.

The best parts of the job are when people care. That happens often with the fun stuff, like a March Madness bracket for places to eat in MacHall, but it’s best when it happens with the work we take most seriously, such as our reporting on a convicted sexual offender whose sentence was delayed so he could continue his studies on campus.

Conversely, the worst parts are when people don’t care. This happens often too, sometimes about things that are really, really important. And as cynical as we can often seem, we really want people to care about this campus and the people on it.

In the end, at the Gauntlet and anywhere else, it’s the people that matter. In five years, what will I remember? My first editor assuring me things would be alright at a Preoccupations (formerly known as Viet Cong) concert when I felt like my life was falling apart in my first year. Staying in the office until 4 a.m. playing NHL 13 after production nights. Watching my friends have the time of their lives at a nightclub called Boom! in Fredericton, NB of all places. Sitting and talking in a suite at Hotel Arts with one of my best friends wondering how on earth we’d pulled off hosting a massive conference. Baseball and Jeopardy! and Ticket to Ride.

These are Good Things. Cling to them.

— Jason Herring, Gauntlet editor-in-chief 2017–19

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