It seems to be the general tradition that when a member of The Minaret’s editorial staff graduates from the university, they must write a “farewell column.” In this column they typically write out a lengthy letter of thanks to their parents, friends, siblings, aunts, uncles, teachers, mentors, coaches, priests, dogs, cats, hamsters and others who somehow acted as a driving force in getting them through college.
Now that I am about to graduate, I thought it was probably necessary for me to write one of those columns. In fact, I have spent a lot of time throughout this semester thinking of just who would be worthy of my thanks and how I might write my column differently than any other departing editor has done before. After all, this was a year unlike any other for The Minaret.
It was a year in which Editor-in-Chief Victor O’Brien and I accomplished the daunting task of reorganizing and redesigning the entire publication to prevent its disappearance due to its previous poor quality and an extremely small number of regular staffers. Along with the help of this year’s fabulous staff and new Faculty Adviser Charles McKenzie, we made The Minaret better than it has ever been. From better layout and visual appeal, to better coverage of harder-hitting stories, it is hard to find an aspect of The Minaret that has not improved this year.
Yet, it seems to me that praise for this accomplishment has been very limited. One of the biggest lessons I have learned in my time as Assistant Editor-in-Chief is that people tend to gravitate toward pointing out what they believe is wrong with certain things. It seemed that for every compliment we received for our work on the paper this year, there was inevitably at least one other individual who would take delight in pointing out our flaws.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for constructive criticism. However, I also believe that criticism is something that must be dispensed with an equal amount of praise for all the things that are done right. I think there is one member of The Minaret staff in particular who can relate to what I am talking about better than anyone else.
As Editor-in-Chief of this year’s paper, Victor O’Brien has taken the brunt of all criticism we have received. Though my position in the paper was only a step below his, I did not envy him in the least. For even amongst our own staff (fabulous as they are), there seems to be a lack of appreciation for just how much time, effort and energy Victor has sacrificed for the sake of the paper. Truthfully, I do not believe The Minaret would be in existence today if Victor had not cared enough to take control and do what had to be done, to not only ensure the paper’s survival but also to enact all the major changes that have made us a truly outstanding piece of journalism.
The university community as a whole owes Victor a huge thanks. Thanks for all the nights that he stayed up past 3 a.m. finishing up layout and talking on the phone to the printer to figure out why the issue files were not being properly transferred. Thanks for all the hours of sleep he lost so that he could run the paper in addition to maintaining his high GPA. Thanks for doing all the annoying managerial tasks and making all the complicated ethical decisions. Thanks for doing all of this simply so that students, faculty and staff could know what was going on around them and have an outlet to voice their opinions and frustrations.
I will not pretend that working with Victor was always easy. There were many times when he and I had conflicts and disagreements about various things. But none of that matters in the long run. All that truly matters is that in working with Victor, I was allowed the opportunity to leave a lasting and remarkable legacy on the publication that has made up the most significant portion of my education over the past four years.
It was a privilege and an honor to work with Victor this year. For that, he is the only individual I wish to recognize here as I say farewell. I can only hope that as he continues on as Editor-in-Chief through 2007, the university community recognizes and rewards him for his efforts as well.