When I joined The Poly as a freshman, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. At the time, all I knew what that I enjoyed writing and that I wanted to learn more about what was going on around campus; I’ve always felt that being informed is incredibly important. And, if I could help someone inform themselves, then all the better.
So, from that day forward, I began to talk to people around campus—this included students (particularly those involved in student government or the hundreds of clubs and organizations around campus), faculty (it turns out that there are a lot of really enthusiastic professors at RPI), and staff (the administration isn’t quite as scary as many believe). I’ve been to more events than I care to remember, and I’ve written far more articles than I’d have ever expected to write in my life. It was a lot of work, but I think it was worth it.
To become more involved in the paper, I decided to become associate news editor, and then news editor. And then news editor again. At that point, I told myself that I wouldn’t do it again; it took far more time than I realized while going through it. But, when elections came around in the spring last year, I decided to run to be a contributing editor—a member of our executive board, the Senior Board. And, because I was the only person left on staff who knew what the News section of the paper really entailed, I became the de facto news editor.
Those who were close to me asked why I decided to do what I did. Sure, I was the only one who actually knew how to do the job, but that didn’t mean I actually had to keep going. I could’ve called it quits and had Tuesdays to myself again. I would’ve been able to avoid sleep deprivation on a horrendously regular basis. I could’ve focused a lot more on my studies. But, there was a part of me that wanted to see this paper continue. Maybe the quality isn’t all that great these days, but I can do my part to keep it to some sort of standard.
Even then, I realized that, at the time, if I had decided to leave the paper, The Poly wouldn’t have fared so well. I was writing the entirety of the News section on a weekly basis, and I’d also contribute to the Features section when I had even a minute of free time. We simply did not have the manpower necessary to allow a core writer to leave the staff. So, I guess that’s why I decided to stick to it. To hold on a little longer and continue this exhausting excursion through the world of journalism.
When I found out at the beginning of the semester that The Poly had run out of money, I was floored. I’d even say I was heartbroken. I’d gone through all of this work, all of this effort and pain, just to see it fall due to the business side of the paper. I was almost ready to quit. If I had to be entirely honest with myself, a small part of me was relieved that I wouldn’t be the cause of the paper’s demise. But, the much larger part of me immediately threw that bit out the window. I’d invested far too much time in the paper to see it die now.
And that, I suppose, is why I’m writing this now. The real reason The Poly is in it’s current state is that we just don’t have enough people. We really don’t. I heard, on more than one occasion, people joke about The Poly needing staff members. But, it’s incredibly true. At the moment, we have about 14 people on our entire staff. This includes the people who are devoted purely to making sure the paper can acquire enough funding to publish an issue. And, because we’re students who also have to deal with schoolwork, many of us have to leave throughout the course of each Tuesday night to get a few hours of sleep before class. There have been numerous times when only three or four people have been around to see the paper to its completion—if you’re a frequent reader of the paper, these tend to be our lower quality issues.
This is a plea to the RPI community. If you’re at all interested in seeing this paper—which happens to be 128 years old—survive, spread the word: The Poly needs help. If you enjoy writing, stop by our office and talk to some of our section editors. If you have any leads about occurrences at RPI, let us know about them. If you like to work with Photoshop or InDesign, we would love any help we could possibly get. If you’re not really a writer, but you like to be a bit of a “grammar Nazi” on the internet, drop by on a Tuesday night and copy read an article. If you’re more of a photographer, get in touch with our photo department, and they’ll give you something to do. If you’re a web developer, we’d love any help we could get to improve our website. Anything you could possibly do to help us out would be appreciated beyond words. You’d even be rewarded for your efforts with free pizza.
The Poly is one of the last fully student-run media outlets left at RPI. Now, more than ever, we need your help to see it continue. Without it, The Poly might just cease to exist.