Editor'S Corner

My road to editor in chief

Hello, I became the editor in chief of The Polytechnic at the end of last semester. If you told me this a year ago, I would have thought that you were crazy. I would laugh so hard because I was excited to never have to write again in college. I hated writing, I hated English class, and writing anything non-technical was as bad as pulling teeth.

Nevertheless, here we are, I am the newest EIC of a newspaper that has been publishing since 1885. For those who don’t know, the EIC is in charge of the day-to-day operations of The Poly and makes final decisions on the content to be published.

Now you might be wondering who is this person and how did he go from hating writing to being the EIC? First, a little about me, I'm a sophomore mechanical engineer also working on a computer science minor. I am a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon. I adore rockets and space. If there is a rocket launch, I’m awake no matter the time. This passion for space grew out of living under the shadow of Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

How did someone from Florida learn about Rensselaer? Both of my parents graduated from RPI. They recommended that I tour the school, and over time I felt like it was a good fit. I got a good amount of financial aid, which helped my decision. I also wanted to get out of Florida, and experience the seasons.

I originally joined The Poly for one reason: to complain. I absolutely hated how class registration was handled for incoming freshmen. I wanted the Office of the Registrar to know it was bad, and I wanted my complaint to be public. Luckily, one of my friends attended The Poly Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond trip, and recommended that I join and publish my opinion. This lead to my first article. Then, on Friday, September 28, there was a Safe Ride crash, and I remember leaving my friends late at night to go figure out what happened. Sitting in the office piecing together the events had me completely sold on joining.

I decided to run for associate editorial/opinion editor since I joined to write an opinion piece. I learned more about the section and how it’s actually more about managing others than actually writing opinion pieces. Having to organize Top Hat and Derby became my first introduction to the Student Government as I learned what a grand marshal was and who was the president of the Union.

My first direct interaction with administrators came later in that semester with the Fall Town Meeting. I was scared—the administrators seemed intimidating with the way they answered questions. It also made me realize how interesting the dynamic of being a student reporting on the administration is. I’m the one paying them to sit up there and answer my questions. Every decision they make is possible because of my money and here I am having to wonder why they are saying certain things.

My favorite experience with The Poly to this day would come with the release of the Draft Report of the Greek Life Task Force. I was sitting in my room when I saw the announcement email and quickly started to read and digest the 46-page report with a 135-page appendix. As I was reading, I compiled a list of the notable recommendations which would eventually morph into this article. It felt satisfying to fully devote myself to understanding a complex document and making it comprehensible for the average student. It also was the first time that I felt like my article would have a meaningful impact. I knew that people would not read the full report and when they mentioned it, I felt proud to say “Why don’t you read my article?”

As my first year on The Poly drew to a close, I ran for editorial/opinion editor. It was a natural fit with former Ed/Op Editor Anahit Hovhannisyan ’19 graduating. I felt comfortable there. I was able to manage the section, and still had time to cover other things that I found interesting. I also knew I was taking Data Structures and would have less time for The Poly in the upcoming semester.

With a new school year came new people joining The Poly and I suddenly became an “expert.” It was weird to be answering questions when I was the one asking the same ones and making the same mistakes just a year ago. I still don’t feel like an expert—I make mistakes all the time, and commonly have to ask questions of others.

Elections were at the end of last semester, and I wasn’t sure I would run for EIC until about a week beforehand. I was and still am afraid of the position. As EIC, I feel the pressure of all of the previous EICs to have The Poly be in the best position that I could put it and have it succeed. I am not the person that can single-handily carry The Poly while managing everyone on staff, but I realized I don’t have to do that. I trust my staff to do what they need, and I can focus on the overall management. EIC is still an intimidating position, but I know that I will do my best.

If any of the reasons I joined or stayed resonates with you and you want to try it, feel free to reach out or come to any of our meetings. You can email me at john@poly.rpi.edu. We have meetings on Sunday at 3 pm, Monday at 6:30 pm and Tuesday at 7 pm.