In two weeks, I will graduate from college.
(I wrote that sentence not because it is particularly newsworthy or relevant to the remainder of this letter, but simply out of hope that the act of typing out its words would make them feel more real. It did not.)
Earlier this week, in a fit of pre-graduation panic combined with spring semester procrastination, I found myself rifling through the file cabinets of past years’ Concordians that line the walls of our office. In doing so, I uncovered a trend of former editors-in-chief submitting their own letters in the final issue of the year. So, here is mine.
Serving as editor of this newspaper for the past eight months (well, co-editor for the first four—shoutout to Katelyn Kasella, who graduated early and is off doing big kid things)—has been one of the greatest challenges of my life. These months have consisted of finding a balance between school and the paper, sitting in the basement of Fjelstad until 2 a.m. finishing up layout on Tuesday nights, and trying to keep The Concordian relevant despite a declining interest in print journalism that is not at all unique to Concordia.
These struggles have only been made more challenging by the time in which they took place. This has been a particularly tumultuous year, not just in our world, but on our own campus. We have grieved the death of a classmate, stared racism in the face, debated the place of conservative voices at a liberal arts school, and sought answers in light of sudden faculty departures. As editor of this paper, I have not only had to come to terms with these issues in my personal life, but decide how to responsibly and respectfully disseminate the news to the Concordia community at large. I hope I have succeeded.
However, the past eight months have also been some of the most transformative of my life. I have learned to be patient, both with my staff and with myself. I have learned the fastest route for delivering papers to all public campus buildings without getting a parking ticket. I have learned that sometimes doing your best is all you can do, and that is OK.
As often as I have complained to my friends, boyfriend, professors, and parents (thank you for your patience, I love you) about the late nights and stressful days, I have loved being the editor of this paper. I do not have the space to regale you with all of my favorite memories from the past year, but they can be narrowed down to taking accidental two-hour naps on the ancient couch in the Concordian office, receiving a handwritten letter from a 92-year-old alum, and watching first-year writers find their voice.
Apparently, it is common practice to end these letters with a piece of advice to college students. So, here goes:
Read the newspaper.
No matter what certain politicians may try to tell you, newspapers are essential to the survival of an informed, democratic society—especially on college campuses. Read The Concordian. Not just to make me and the editors who will come after me feel better about how we choose to spend our time, but to inform yourself about the school that you are giving four years and thousands of dollars to. If you do not like something that you read, do not simply sit around and complain about it in DS; submit a letter to the editor and make your voice heard.
Then, after you have read The Concordian, keep reading. Read the New York Times. Read the Washington Post. Read the Star Tribune and the Atlantic and the Associated Press. Hell, read the Forum—but do not settle on one news source. Take in multiple viewpoints, read left- and right-leaning newspapers, and come to your own conclusions. How else are you supposed to be responsibly engaged in the world?
Also, remember to drink water and say “thank you” and stop using plastic straws.
Katie Beedy (’18) is co-Editor-in-Chief of the Concordian. She is majoring in multimedia journalism and communication studies. Her work has been featured by Emerging Prairie, where she interned in the summer of 2016, and at concordiacollege.edu/blog.