If you had told me as a freshman that I would be on the executive board of a progressive student magazine come senior year, I probably would’ve laughed in your face. Not only did I not even know what the Gavel was as a freshman on Newton, but I had also been a part of my high school’s newspaper staff and had come to hate it by the time I graduated. I had kept at it through senior year to balance out my college application resume, but I had no interest in continuing this activity when I got to Boston College.
As a freshman who barely left Duchesne, let alone Newton, my involvement in 4Boston was plenty to get me through freshman year. But by sophomore year, I quickly realized I needed to branch out, get more involved and meet new people. Our lovely Editor-in-Chief and my freshman and sophomore year roommate Jenna persuaded me to go to her first Gavel meeting with her, and I went dragging my feet, assuming my previous dislike for reporting would be reinforced. And while I still wasn’t thrilled by the idea of being on a newspaper again, I was intrigued by the motley crew of people meeting in a classroom in O’Neill every Sunday night, throwing out article topics and debating politics. I can’t really pinpoint the decision-making moment; I think it was more of a combination of peer pressure and desperation for involvement that made me pick up an article that night.
From then on, I was in, sometimes whether I wanted to be or not. I often told myself that I did not have the time to become more involved in the Gavel beyond being a staff writer, but it was impossible to not become invested in the current of the constantly growing and changing organization. I had newfound creative inspiration from the other writers and board members, which I got to express when I became an Associate Culture Editor second semester sophomore year, and as Features Editor first semester junior year. I came to enjoy the writing, editing, and even sometimes layout for our print issues. But even more, I enjoyed the discussions we had at meetings about how we could improve, how we could do better, how we could change. We were underfunded and unknown underdogs, but we shared a passion in being a voice of progress on a campus that can lean to the conservative side of things. I liked the newness of everything, the endless possibilities of the things we could achieve as an organization that was, at that point, only three years old. And even more, I found myself having strong opinions on these various possibilities; I became invested in spite of myself.
Even then, I was hesitant to take on the e-board position of Print Manager as a first semester senior. As I predicted, it was, at times, an incredibly stressful job. I felt unqualified, a lot of changes needed to be made, and I was coming back from abroad to an organization that had expanded substantially while I was away. But it was also an incredibly rewarding job, and a job that I am very proud of it. We got a new printer and brought on new designers, we tried to make the print articles read and look better than ever, and edited and edited for hours until everything was perfect. Was it a ton of work? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I loved making decisions about how things should run, about what was going well and what needed to change. Jenna told me to make print my own, and I tried to run with that as far as I could in one semester. I loved seeing the enthusiasm of the rest of the Gavel members when we finally got the physical print issues back, and they could see the results of their hard work. I loved the feedback from people outside the Gavel—a simple, “This print issue looks awesome!” from people I barely knew meant the world to me.
Of course, none of this ever would’ve happened without the rest of the Gavel. And by that I quite literally mean the entire rest of the Gavel—from the section editors who came up with the article ideas to all the writers who wrote, from the copy editors who edited everything over and over again to the photographers who contributed amazing images, from the designers who created the beautiful layouts to the business people who helped us fund this awesome magazine, and to all my friends on the Gavel who kept me sane throughout the process. The complicated but beautiful thing about print is that everyone contributes, and it’s a creation of the entire organization. When frustrating things happen, remind yourselves that we are a community that all works together, sometimes whether we like it or not, and that when we do work together we can produce amazing things.
As Managing Editor this past semester, I got to help oversee almost all aspects of the organization, and after all the innovations we have made this year I am already so excited to see what the Gavel will look like a year from now. I know the underclassmen have ideas about how the Gavel can improve that us seniors can hardly fathom, and I think that is one of the greatest things about the Gavel. Rarely do you have a place where anyone’s idea can become the next great goal or project, rarely do you have the opportunity to take something and make it your own, and rarely do you come across a group of people so committed to a common goal and intertwined by a common passion. We are a self-proclaimed progressive organization, but progressive has a much deeper meaning than just political views. If we continue to seek progress, in every sense of the word, by being open to new ideas and continuously reevaluating how we do things, nothing will be able to stop us.