Last Words


I think it was in the second week of November when one exhausted Journal editor collapsed in the hallway between mine and Matt’s offices.

I had just come up the stairs from our lounge, which I had jokingly referred to another staff member as the “killing fields,” because every couch was occupied by a sleeping (and in some cases, twitching) editor.

And their sleeping wasn’t that comfortable, planned-nap-looking kind of slumber; it was more of a messy, mouth-open, some-limbs-hanging-off-the-side, passed-out kind of comatose.

After making sure the fallen editor was upright and ready to get back to work, I remember asking Matt, “Is it possible that we’re pushing them too hard?”

I think he replied with something along the lines of, “You know, you just squeeze as much as you can and hope they don’t break.”

Ironically, this was the scene on the press night of the issue in which we published our health and wellness supplement.

As the clock ticked past 5 a.m. and dozens of empty coffee cups and fast-food containers lay strewn about the office, the irony wasn’t lost on anyone.

So begins my feeble attempt to thank all of the huge beauties pictured below.

I can’t even begin to articulate the immense pride I feel for all of the editors, writers, photographers and business staff that made up volume 134.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the paper in one way or another this year. For what it’s worth, I dedicate these words to you.

Thank you for being part of one of the best years of my life and surely one of the best jobs I’ll ever have. I’ll promise to remember you forever if you promise to remember me in 10 years when I’ll be begging most of you for a job.

After four years of working here, I’ve often wondered what drives people to do it—to sacrifice their personal health and sanity, their marks and their free time.

My only guess is that they do it because they believe deeply in the power of newspapers to effect change.

Whenever a section editor came up to me to apologize after a shouting match we had over a headline or even the placement of a single comma, I always told them the same thing: “Don’t worry. That’s why you work here.”

They work here not only because they care about commas, but also because they care about the well-being of this community and because they believe their work can improve it.

Yes, we could have simply written an article about the Vagina Monologues being performed on campus for the ninth year in a row, but if we did that would anyone be discussing men’s role within feminism while waiting in line at the Common Ground?

We never claimed to have the answer to anything; our goal was always to ignite debate on campus. I can tell you, I was never happier than when I saw people arguing over a copy of the Journal on a Tuesday or Friday morning. That’s always when I felt I had done my job—when students were talking.

Thank you to Missio, Hartley and Lang for seeing something in a punk-ass first-year almost four years ago. And to Lang, especially: I probably wouldn’t be writing this if not for your early words of encouragement.

To all of my housemates over the years: Thanks for understanding as best you could and for providing a solid base to come home to every once in a while.

To Patrick, Karen and everyone at 1000 Islands: Sorry for all the late nights; thanks for putting up with us.

Bob Scriven: Thank you for delivering our newspaper. No one knows how much of an unsung hero you are until she or he tries to deliver 9,000 newspapers all over Kingston at 7 a.m. Your hard work and dependability will definitely be missed.

Pam and everyone in the business office: Not nearly enough do we remind ourselves that without your efforts, there would be no pages for our words and photos.

Anna and Katherine: I must admit, I’m not happy about handing the reins over to someone else, but since I have to, I’m glad it’s to you two. I can’t wait to see what an amazing job you’re going to do.

Gabe: ♥ ♥ ♥. Thanks for letting us swear so much and for being such a good hugger.

Matt, I don’t know what to say. You drove me to be better every single time I stepped foot in the Journal House and kept my strength up when I would have otherwise probably settled for less. It makes me happy to think I was able to keep up with you this year. Good luck at the Globe—and just so you know, I plan to name-drop you all the way to the top.

Lastly, thanks to everyone who read the paper this year. My only hope is that we consistently gave you something to talk about.

--Brendan Kennedy wants Just. One. More.

* * *

Last May, I interviewed Bob Rae while he drove to Kingston the day before he received his honorary degree from Queen’s. The reception on his cell phone was bad, and I didn’t get what I wanted.

The next day, I went to a reception after his graduate address and stood with all the sycophants you can expect to find at one of these things. I tried my best not to look awkward as I ate a piece of cheese from a platter.

In walked Rae and his wife Arlene. After he was halfway though making his rounds, I approached him and introduced myself.

I asked a few questions. He gave typical answers. Then he patted my shoulder.

“Make yourself comfortable,” he said, moving on to the next unctuous hand to shake.

I left five minutes later.

If we made ourselves comfortable this year, no one would have known Sukaina Ali’s death by “natural causes” was actually a heart attack related to an eating disorder and depression.

Queen’s would never have made public their 10 recommendations about how to prevent such a tragic circumstance from happening again. Second-year student Patti Cuthbert would have never e-mailed us to say she wanted to make public her own eating disorder to help other students.

If we were comfortable about Homecoming street parties, no one would have known about the damaging consequences of smashing bottles on the street and how sexual assault reports spike during Homecoming weekend. No one would have known we were the only news source to report that a student was Tasered during this year’s Aberdeen Street party. If we were comfortable with the University’s ethnic, gender, and financial breakdown, we wouldn’t have devoted pages to articles and graphics that revealed the complexity of the situation. Students and professors wouldn’t have contacted us to use the information for their research papers.

The Journal is notorious on campus because we thrive on our discomfort. We listen to the feeling gnawing at our guts and have the integrity to put our name to something that creates discussion.

We also have the integrity to say we’re wrong when we make mistakes.

But in such a tight-knit community like Queen’s, people always tell us we’re wrong.

Maybe that’s the only tradition upheld at the Journal. Each year, people complain about how much hackneyed shit we publish, and then our staff walk into internships at publications like Toronto Life, the Whig-Standard, the Edmonton Journal and the Globe and Mail.

That means one of two things: The future of Canadian media is doomed because Journal kids are the new flu strain everyone has feared. Or, our “yellow journalism” is actually something that most people in an insular community don’t want to hear. It hits too close to home.

Take a good look at the bottom of this page.

See those tired people?

I don’t know what drives them to commit academic and social suicide to feed their addiction at this place. It’s certainly not for the pennies we pay them.

Thank you volume 134, for putting our readers’ best interests ahead of your own. Without your dedication, no one would have known what happened at Queen’s this year.

Gabe King: You are our surrogate mother. After your heart attack, you refused to take a month off because this place is in your blood. Thank you for your friendship.

Omar El Akkad and Matt Hartley: Thank you for hiring an 18-year-old twit who wrote a pretentious column for this newspaper. You changed his life.

Dréa: Thank you for your love, patience and partnership.

Brendan: I won’t say you’ve been like a brother to me because you have too many brothers. But I’m a better person for going through this with you. Thanks. You’re the best friend I never thought I’d find during my time here. I hope I get the Guilty Pleasure of working with you again.

And you, who read something and wrote a letter to the editor, who disagreed with something we wrote, who appreciated something we did: Thank you for giving me the most fulfilling job on campus.

I can’t believe it has to end.

--Matthew Trevisan, Editor in Chief

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