WKUHerald.com • April 28, 2021 • https://wkuherald.com/58314/life/goodbye-from-the-editor-my-student-newspaper-is-a-museum-of-my-college-experience/
Goodbye from the editor: My student newspaper is a museum of my college experience
Laurel Deppen, Editor-in-Chief
When you’ve been in the same place for a long time, it becomes a museum of your past.
Someone said some version of that in my memoir writing class, and because that’s a class full of upper-level English majors and those pursuing master’s of fine arts in creative writing, I guarantee they said it more beautifully than I just did.
The Adams-Whitaker Student Publication Center has become a museum of my college experience. I only started feeling this way about it — that I was just passing through, browsing the exhibits — when I got a post-grad internship. I looked around the newsroom, intoxicated with all the possibilities that a summer in Seattle might bring, and I realized that the College Heights Herald was going to exist, and thrive, without me.
It only became a museum because I’m comfortable with that.
I walk through the newsroom like I’m staring through the glass. Wandering past little plaques with descriptions, documenting my time passed.
In my mind, the museum’s entry way, which is meant to be inscribed with a description of what there is to see, is blank. The reason I walked in in the first place, how I found the Herald application as a freshman, is missing from my memory. Yet filling out that application has made all the difference in both my personal and professional life.
Here are the front doors I walk through each day — sunglasses on, Airpods in, steps elevated with arrogance and excitement. Here’s where I stand and wave to Sherry and Tracy, the front office staff. Here’s where I take a deep breath before I start the day.
As I peer through the newsroom, I look to the farthest desk, where the freshman me huddled trying to get her required office hours, she doesn’t want to take up space or be seen. Adjacent to desks where my first Herald friend and I hid when we cut class, a small act of protest for being told we couldn’t sit together because we talked too much.
There’s the desk I sat at as features editor, surrounded by my reporters who were more like my friends. Our meetings turned to late night gossip- and story-sessions.
Down the hall are the basement steps, by them are imaginary plaques noting the times I ran down them with friends, hurriedly opening the Herald archives to figure out if they actually published that story about places to hook-up on campus in print. Another about the time I ran down them in a pencil skirt and high heels to collect white boards to scrawl ideas which would become the Barnes Project in dry erase. But especially prominent is the time during a leadership workshop where we had to pair up with someone we didn’t know.
“I don’t know you, Laurel,” Rebekah Alvey told me, and she became one of my best friends.
The center of the newsroom is filled with memories of paper airplanes flying, music blaring, a design editor dancing, and my eyes filled with tears from laughing so much. It’s where I met Natasha and Jake after editorial board meetings to go to Chili’s. It’s where we put the Election Night pizza.
Miscellaneous plaques with no real timeline are scattered there too. Here’s where we did each other’s eye black for a kickball game. Here’s where the prep for a mud volleyball tournament turned into plans for drinking wine and whining about our jobs. Here’s where we yelled about the Associated Press telling us we didn’t have to write out the word “percent” anymore.
I pass by the board under the lights where we edit the pages of our paper, where clumsiness constantly turned to purple bruises on my arm — so spatially unaware that I forget its edges are there.
There by the windows is the desk I forged more friendships. Where editing news turned into giving life advice. Where I stood and gave many Ted-style Talks. Where I gave the first of many group hugs with Jack and Lily.
Then there’s the corner office, its walls are lined with the conversations I had that made me close the door. The laughter of my friends. The lunches we ate cross-legged on the floor. The stress balls squeezed on deadline. And of course, the area just outside it, where I hugged my friends on our last production day, listening to Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams.”
Sure, in my Herald museum, there are plaques for my professional accomplishments: internships, scholarships and a few awards, but all of that is better suited for my cover letters, and it’s secondary to the people I met in the building and the person it has helped me become.
This museum is so special because every other person who has ever walked through the doors of the Adams-Whitaker Student Publication Center has an exhibit here too.
I’m sad to leave it, but I know my time is up. I’ve done all the Herald has for me to do, and I’m still grateful for it. Like most who pass by these preserved artifacts and feel the love of this place, I want to believe I made a difference here.
Maybe I’ll still be felt in the Student Publications office once I’m gone. I’ll be in the paper swans I folded and placed on every desk. Or as a plaque in someone else’s museum.