Editorial Notebook

Being a Poly staff member

Positions at newspaper reward merit, not seniority

The Polytechnic is unlike every other organization here at RPI for many different reasons. For starters, we are a zero-subsidy group, meaning that not a penny of the Student Activity Fee that you pay goes to fund us. Instead, every dollar we spend we have to make in ads and subscriptions. However, other things make The Poly an appetizing group to be a part of.

Although I got an extremely good score on the English section of the ACT, including perfect in one of the subsections, I am, by far, not perfect when it comes to English. Since working with The Poly, though, my English skills have become much better, both in speaking and in writing. I spend many hours every week copy reading articles for the newspaper—checking to make sure all the correct grammar, punctuation, and sentence styles are included. Naturally, this is a skill where, the more time you spend on it, the better you get. And although I know many people reading this would whine if they had to proofread a million articles, it is definitely something that you start to enjoy over time. So, in this case, The Poly is a group that improves skills you don’t necessarily refine otherwise at RPI, like English.

Secondly, it is very easy to move up in the management of the newspaper. After just six issues and two business meetings (that’s only about a month and a half), one becomes a voting member of The Poly, and can vote for those running for positions. Running for an editor or associate editor position is also simple; just put your name on the ballot. I got involved with The Poly first semester, and I got voting rights just in time for elections, when I ran for Ed/Op Editor. Some other organizations at RPI have few positions students can advance to; much time, effort, and dedication is needed to advance. After putting in just one semester as a section editor, I feel comfortable running for a position on Senior Board, such as Managing Editor. This is the equivalent of being president of a fraternity or sorority or becoming conductor of the RPI Pep Band after just over a semester of commitment, both of which are unthinkable.

But The Poly makes it easy; if you do quality work and you put in a good amount of time and effort, you can advance very quickly. This is especially true if you don’t really mind the work you’re doing or the section you’re working on. I wouldn’t mind being editor of the News or Sports sections, both of which have different responsibilities than mine. But because Ed/Op was open and I was willing to do the work, I got the vote. And hopefully, I’ll do the same for Managing Editor next semester.