Last words

Sebastian and Anisa say their final words as Editors in Chief

Journal staff for 2015-16.
The Journal's staff for the 2015-16 year.
Volume 143 Editors in Chief Sebastian Leck and Anisa Rawhani say their goodbyes.
Volume 143 Editors in Chief Sebastian Leck and Anisa Rawhani say their goodbyes.
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Sebastian Leck,
Editor in Chief 

It’s appropriate that I write this quickly while under stress.

How better to end my year than with the time-honoured tradition of just barely meeting the deadline, while juggling what feels like 50 other things I have to do. 

I’ll miss this place. It may not feel like it now, as I sit bleary-eyed in my dusty office, but I’ll miss the Journal house, the Queen’s campus and the people who work so hard to keep this newspaper afloat. And despite the naysayers on Twitter, we’ve done some damn good reporting.

That’s not to say there weren’t mistakes. Every correction hurt me, and after each one we pledged to do better. There’s nothing else you can do. Student writers are, by definition, amateurs, but that doesn’t mean our standards should be lower. It just means we have more to learn. 

Before I wrote for The Journal, I used to pick it up every week, even if I didn’t understand what the AMS was or why the newspaper kept putting stories about it on their front page. I eventually wrote a postscript article and a news brief, and then applied for Assistant News Editor because I’d missed the deadline for all the other positions. I was, somehow, hired.

It’s pretty wonderful that any student can walk off the street and get something published here. And if you get hired and work as hard as you can, you’ve got a good chance of eventually running the place one day.  

That said, The Journal has changed since Anisa and I arrived. We have a new website, a new print design and, hopefully, a new approach to the way we do things. 

Out of necessity and ambition, our focus has become increasingly digital. We’ve produced more digital projects, added interactive maps and graphs to our articles and upped our game on social media (which increased our total pageviews from 750,000 to a million from last year). Along the way, our new longform website has allowed us to pursue journalistic projects that seemed impossible just a few years ago. 

I leave this place with love for everything it’s done for me — the sharing of ideas, the debates, the late night hilarity, the thrill of finding new stories and the knowledge that my words can really make a difference. 

But it’ll also be a relief to be free from the constant buzzing of my phone, calls from angry readers, the extremely late nights and the stress of overseeing the finances of the newspaper, which remain uncertain.

I’m happy and sad and proud and slightly annoyed by the sense that we could have done better. 

But I don’t want to belabor this. Good luck, Jacob and Jane, with the year ahead. Thank you to Janina and Alison, the Editors in Chief in 2013-14, for taking a chance on me, and to their successors Vince and Nick for giving me free reign over a full page and two multimedia projects. I’m sure I was infuriating at times, but your patient editing made me a better writer.

Thank you to my non-Journal friends for keeping me grounded, even when I bore you to tears talking about the newspaper. Thank you to my parents thousands of miles away, who’ve been nothing but supportive.

Thank you to our staff, all of you, for working so, so hard and staying positive. And thank you to Anisa, the best co-editor I could have asked for. You pushed me when I needed pushing and you were my rock when I felt I couldn’t go on. 

We made it. Isn’t that crazy?

Sebastian’s ready to move on. No, really. 

 

Anisa Rawhani,
Editor in Chief

This feels strangely like writing my own obituary. Here lies Anisa: she aimed high and at times fell flat on her face. Rest in peace.

I could leave it there, but if I’ve learned anything from the past three years, it’s that there’s always more to a story. 

There’s this little red brick house on University Ave. that thousands pass each day, but few stop to notice. The paint on the porch is peeling, and the floors inside are stained beyond repair. But within the walls of this rather unremarkable house, truly remarkable people reside. 

There are about 30 of them, each singular and unsalaried, but dedicated beyond belief and willing to take whatever hits come with their thankless jobs. Like the caffeine running through their veins, they’re the lifeblood of this place. They’re the miraculous force that brings a newspaper to your stands every week.

During our time together, I probably didn’t express my gratitude enough, so I’ll say it now: thank you. Thank you for coming in each day. Thank you for your sacrifices. Thank you for your mistakes. You were perfect.

It isn’t every year we report on study drug use on campus, a professor winning a Nobel Prize, a $50 million donation or a professor speaking out about alleged plagiarism among their peers. 

With our new website, we’ve reported these stories in ways we never could before. But while the writers change, some stories remain the same — racism rears its ugly head, sexual assault policies are lacking and bureaucracy continues to waste all of our time.

Sometimes I have these daydreams where certain key moments in my life never happened. An alternate timeline where I never received that phone call three years ago, offering me a position as a Copy Editor at The Journal. I’m not sure where I’d be otherwise.

My last three years have been spent listening to stories and fumbling to get the right words on the page. The stories came from people who weren’t like me. People who wear scarves around their head in devotion to God. People who’ve been made to feel like nothing because they have dark skin in a school of whiteness. People who’ve been assaulted on the same streets that I’ve walked unharmed.

To the strangers who shared intimate details of their life with me, thank you. I’m not sure if I did justice to your stories, but know that at the very least you made me a better person. 

With each interview, the questions kept coming. Why are these things happening? How can things be so complicated? What’s causing all of this?

The sense that I have unfinished business continues to loom overhead, but I know my time is drawing to a close.

Jacob and Jane, there will be days you feel infinite, and there will be days when it will all prove to be too much. Just breathe. Remember that there were hundreds of editors before you and they somehow made it through the insanity. Also, while I have you here, remember to lay off the coffee.

Sebastian, my co-editor and best friend, I’m going to miss having you within yelling distance every day. I love you — but you already know that.

Arwin, there’s no one I’d rather argue with about front page designs at 3 a.m. You were a dream.

Katelyn, our business manager, thanks for making sure we kept a roof over our heads. Our beloved office admin Jasmit, without you I probably would have lost it.

Janina and Alison, three years ago you changed everything. Thank you for taking a chance on me. Nick and Vince, your journalistic talents continue to inspire me. I know you’ll both do great things.

And finally, Nat and Marbles, my beloved housemates, you were my haven. Thank you for keeping things in perspective and feeding me avocados.

When I turn in my key to the Journal house, I know a sad relief will set in. All of the maybes and what ifs will spin around my head. But those are stories for another time, and questions for another generation.

Anisa is ready for some adventure.

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