Editor's Corner

Big shoes to fill

The summer before I started at Rensselaer, I read as many Poly articles as I could. I was eager to start college, curious about what the next few years at RPI would hold, and knew that I wanted to continue my passion for journalism. So, I decided to email The Poly team. Soon enough, I heard back from then-Editorial/Opinion Editor John Stotz ’22, who happened to be interning at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the summer—only an hour’s drive away from my home in Los Angeles. After hearing about his experiences at RPI and what he learned at the paper, I was certain that, even though I wasn’t sure what the next three years would entail, The Poly would be part of them.

My interest in journalism began in my junior year of high school, when I studied the work of whistleblower Glenn Greenwald for an AP English research project. What started as a curious search into the Snowden scandal blossomed into my passion for journalism. I love the process of uncovering more information about unfolding events, questioning why certain decisions are made and how people are affected by them, and figuring out how to tell these stories effectively.

Since my first semester at The Poly, I’ve grown from being utterly terrified of emailing anyone—let alone interviewing deans—to tackling one of the most challenging and rewarding pieces I’ve ever written: Rensselaer’s Title IX policies. After all, the stories that are told—and the voices that are suppressed—shape the way we see the world. While working on the Title IX piece, I was constantly worried about screwing up such critical information, especially as a survivor myself. There were so many times while researching the history of Title IX and poring through both the law and RPI policies where I wanted to turn off my laptop and walk away. I wanted it to be perfect, and I kept pushing off publication until it was, even though nothing is perfect. After interviewing Title IX Coordinators for the piece, I would always have more questions than answers. But someone in the Rensselaer community needed the information, and I had to rise to the occasion.

I have only just begun as The Poly’s editor-in-chief, but I sometimes feel like I don’t deserve the position. I’ve got big shoes to fill. I am constantly worried about not doing enough for The Poly. As John once told me, the role of editor-in-chief could eat me alive, if I let it. The ever-growing to-do list, demands of journalism, and burden of leadership is constant. Serving as editor-in-chief of a college newspaper is harder than it looks, and avoiding burnout is easier said than done. I hope to learn from the editors in chief before me to do the job as best as I can, and I’m glad to have a team that offers me mutual trust and support.

In terms of putting this into practice, this means blocking out time specifically for Poly work, schoolwork, meals, exercise, and music. It means learning to delegate effectively, really listen, and make sure that my team and I are on the same page. It means focusing on just one task at a time and thinking of the best solution for it, or who would be the best at handling it.

Though the shoes don’t fit now and probably never will, they don’t need to. I know I’ll do my best every single day, while being myself and not trying to be — or lead like — anyone else. The Polytechnic has been around since 1885. We are here to keep the Rensselaer community informed, lead student opinion, and provide other material for reader enjoyment. Through documenting the student experience at RPI, The Poly not only highlights what’s important to RPI students at a specific period in time, but acts as a living part of RPI history. I am honored to serve as editor-in-chief.

A common misconception about The Poly is that you need to be a great writer or enjoy writing to join. That is simply not the case! If you are interested in working on our website Pipeline, you can get credit for your work in RCOS. Maybe you’re the go-to person for a last-minute photoshoot, or you love to design graphics in your free time. Or maybe you feel really strongly about a campus policy and want to advocate for other changes. I invite you to share your stories, skills, and dreams with the Rensselaer community through The Poly. If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to share tips for preventing burnout (or just about anything really) feel free to email me at sarah.shiang@poly.rpi.edu. I hope to hear from you soon!