‘The One with the College Newspaper’

Saying goodbye to 132 Student Union

The TV show “Friends” has episode titles that are very applicable to the college experience: “The One Where Everybody Finds Out”; “The One with All the Resolutions”; “The One with the Blackout.”

“The One Where No One’s Ready.” Now, perhaps, “The One Where No One’s Ready to Graduate.”

College cannot be fully summed up in one phrase – how can you fit staying up until 2 a.m. on a Tuesday wine drunk with your roommates, 10 p.m. half-app adventures, mud-splattered sunburns, chocolate chip cookie baking and Chinese fire drills in the middle of the Audubon into one blank? Yet for each one of us, our experience has been highlighted by something profound – something that has changed us as individuals, made us more self-confident and gifted us lifelong friends.

For some, it is a fraternity or sorority, a campus club or a sports team.

For me, college has been “The One with the College Newspaper.”

I joined The Spectrum in the spring of my freshman year. I spent the majority of my first semester sidelined with a stomach illness that had plagued me throughout my senior year of high school. I was scared to leave my dorm in case I became ill, so I skipped parties, made up excuses for why I could never leave campus with my classmates and kept to myself.

After receiving a diagnosis over Thanksgiving break, I was looking for a way to start fresh. I had led my high school’s literary magazine and figured that made me a good writer – I soon found out writing for a college newspaper is much different. I was thrown so far out of my comfort zone I could no longer see the wall I had built around myself.

It was the best decision I made in college.

After spending the better part of six months holed up in my bedroom, The Spectrum sent me out into the world. I interviewed professors, professionals and students and inquired about their lives, aspirations and fears. With each interview, my anxiety shed; I realized there was more to me than my illness and more to life than assuming the worst.

The Spectrum pushed me to push myself. Every time I thought I successfully completed a challenge, another was thrust at me. Like when I wrote a story on a fellow student who had suddenly passed away, when I wrote the front page story to our spring break issue in less than 24 hours and when I was asked to return to the paper after taking a semester off. Even on school breaks, I couldn’t escape The Spectrum. I once spent three hours reading a breaking news story out loud to my editor in chief over the phone so he could read back his edits because it was the middle of August and he was at a cabin without WiFi.

Once you join The Spectrum, you are part of it everywhere you go. You find yourself live-tweeting while waiting in line to see presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, chasing fire trucks across campus and sprinting to the office to notify your photo editor President Satish K. Tripathi is in the Student Union. Everyday life becomes full of newsworthy topics; The Spectrum changes the way you think.

I’ve met some of the funniest and quirkiest people I know at this paper. There is a special camaraderie that develops when you all have to be in the office at 11 a.m. every Sunday and stay until midnight or later every Tuesday and Thursday. You understand what your editors are thinking by the looks on their faces or their tone of voice. Hannah Montana sing-a-longs and Fireball shots happen. You know who will always have a Band-Aid, napkin or fork (me) and who is most likely to write an article when The Spectrum wins an award or elects a new editor in chief (also me).

To all of my fellow editors who were there through the super-late nights, the breaking news stories, the 11 a.m. budget meetings, the Starbucks runs, the inevitably frustrating moments and the read-this-six-page-story-out-loud editing sessions – thank you. There is nowhere else that would have tolerated my hatred for the Oxford comma or my incessant reminders that movies need to be written in quotes, not italics.

I don’t intend to enter the field of journalism after graduation and haven’t since my junior year. I’ve stayed at the paper and spent the better part of the past two years editing – and occasionally writing for – this paper because I love the people who comprise it. I also owe it a debt. Without The Spectrum, I would not be the leader I am today – I’d still be shut in my dorm room.

I’m starting law school in the fall and will take with me the editing and writing abilities and awareness of current events that I honed at The Spectrum. In 132 Student Union I’ll leave behind a stack of newspapers, ibuprofen and a family. This paper has given me some amazing memories with some even more amazing people. “The One with the College Newspaper” will go down as my favorite episode.

Alyssa McClure is the managing editor and can be reached at alyssa.mcclure@ubspectrum.com.