Editorial Notebooks

Editor encourages writing

Did you know that I can write whatever I want in this space? SQUIRRELPAJAMAS! Whether it be about my winter break (which was boring), my favorite Alien/Predator movie (Predator totally wins, hands down) or a deep and thoughtful discussion on the current state of RPI or higher education in general (Rensselaer is pretty great, but we do have some problems), I can write something here and someone will read it (even if it’s just my mother). This editorial space has been granted to each and every one of the editors of this lovely newspaper you are reading. It serves as a way for editors to voice their many opinions that can’t be vocalized in other sections of the paper.

It’s a large responsibility. Not only are we read by some of the students on campus, but we grace the coffee tables and computer screens of alumni and the school administration. Some see The Poly as a representative of student opinion, whilst others use it as a good summary of important events occurring across campus.

So, what do I write here? I am only a student—a hardworking, studious, highly involved, and amazing student who totally understands why my opinion should be taken as a representative of not only student opinion but also the general state of Rensselaer—who has volunteered to write for this paper and is in the middle of a rather long week of homework and projects.

Unfortunately, this is the problem many of us come to when writing our weekly notebooks. Always yearning for something insightful, we often fall flat; discussing our campus goals or celebrating our great summer vacations. It is often difficult for one who is busy trying to fill his or her section with important articles to stop and consider for a moment on what to write for the lowly opinion section.

But, I believe the lack of strong editorial opinions does not simply represent a lack of editor opinion or laziness (although that may factor in at some point), but is in fact a representation of increased student complacency and a severe lack of newspaper staff.

I have mentioned this in a previous notebook, but just last year, there was much more to write about in the way of campus controversies. With the graduation of the class of 2012, students have grown silent. No new initiatives have been proposed, no drastic changes to student life are in effect, so many students are unaware of what RPI was, or what it has become. All of the “movers and shakers” that riled up the status quo or fought to keep students’ off-campus rights untainted by Rensselaer’s unwanted reach are gone. And many of the issues they talked about are left not discussed. Without the loud vocalization of student issues that were once cycling through the student senate and our opinion section, we, as well as the rest of campus, are unaware of many of the current student concerns.

Additionally, we are heavily understaffed. For example, we are currently operating with one news editor and two news writers (at best). Check out the front page; how many of those articles are written by Kirk Smith? We strive to get content out to students before it becomes out of date, but often times it feels like we are fighting against the odds. Between Morning Mail and Reddit, many of the stories that get published by our Wednesday distribution time are old news to many.

We are desperate for volunteers, and it is not just us. The Statler &Waldorf that used to so humorously grace our campus with their wit and humor has essentially died out due to a lack of staff members. We do not ask for much of your time (although we are known to complain about the long hours); you can do as much or as little work as you would like. Whether it’s through writing articles, bringing us a cool and interesting news or features story, laying out the paper’s design, talking to possible advertisers, or just reading articles for grammatical errors we could use your help.

When I first joined The Poly a few years ago, I hated writing and believed I would just stick to laying out the opinion section. But, as I grew more involved, I discovered how much fun it is to review restaurants and movies or to interview members of the presidential cabinet. I would urge you to try a hand at article writing, but if you wish, simply stop by The Poly office anytime on Tuesday night I we can point you in the direction to help us out. And, as an extra special bonus, we will give you pizza! Also, if you have an opinion regarding anything on campus, let us know at poly@rpi.edu.