Passing the Ram to Volume 104


Our production nights always end the same way: sometime between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning I hush the stragglers’ chatter in the newsroom and call the printing company. The same kind-sounding man always answers — our conversation is short, yet pleasant for near-sunrise hours. “Let me check your pages.” “How many in color this issue?” “Have a nice night.”

 This past production week the man asked me for my name. “I talk to you every week and I don’t know it,” he said. After finding out, he responded, “Goodnight Rachel, talk to you next week.”

 The printing man didn’t know that the next week would be my last on the Ram’s staff. Following winter break, a newspaper staff will continue to gather every Tuesday night. They will rush to finish last-minute articles, struggle with the complexities of InDesign and pray the printer operates smoothly, all while eating pizza and forming bonds unique to the windowless basement of McGinley. The only difference is that I won’t be there and our new Editor-in-Chief Ava Erickson will call the kind printing man.

 It’s nearly impossible to imagine my life without this publication. The Ram has always been there to thread my days into weeks. Sundays are for our budget meeting, Monday for editing incoming articles, Tuesdays we make a newspaper and Wednesdays we try to catch up on sleep before the cycle restarts. Each week we produce an issue, every 22 issues we complete a volume and these past three volumes contain all the pages of my life from the past four years.

 As a timid freshman Culture Editor, I learned how to be comfortable with insecurity, showing up each week to contribute to something so much larger than myself and deciding that my voice belonged amongst the fray. As a sophomore Culture Editor, I found solace in the predictability of our weekly news cycle despite the uncertainty and fear we articulated in each issue. As Editor-in-Chief, I was awed by this staff’s adaptability, a tiny part of me surprised and a huge part elated that all 24 members continued to show up to produce a publication I had been trusted to shepherd. And, all three Volumes renewed my veneration for journalism.

  It has been hard. Many of the challenges were and will continue to be inherent to university journalism — meeting deadlines, a lack of administrative transparency, checking personal bias and encouraging readership and participation amongst an increasingly burnt out population. Some of the challenges were unexpected — a pandemic that forced much of the past two Volumes online, and hurricanes that flooded our offices twice, soaking archived publications and wiping out half of our desktop computers.

  And yet, the Ram continued to make a newspaper anyway. Volume 103, if defined by nothing else, should be applauded for its resilience — a drive to exist despite all.

  This is why I cannot say I am sad I will not be on the newspaper staff next semester. The Ram has defined a massive part of my life, but I, nor any one person, will ever define the Ram. The Ram is a history, a family, a meeting place. The Ram is something we hold and protect for a time but with the sole purpose of preserving it and passing it along to those who come after. 

  The tribulations of the past year will not disappear. The impacts of climate change may mean more floods and the failure of political systems will result in more unexpected disasters. But the Ram will not disappear, either. There will always be a staff to weather the challenges and more importantly to report on them. There will always be someone to call the printing man — I’m just honored he knows my name. 

  To Volume 101 and 102, thank you for taking me in when I was unsure I belonged. To Aislinn Keely and Helen Stevenson, you handled the challenges of Editor-in-Chief with such grit and grace. Thank you for leaving huge shoes to fill; I would not have known what was possible without them.

  To Kieran Press-Reynolds, thanks for being my partner in crime for two years. Our giant chess games, spinny chair races and Scrabble duels will always remain some of my fondest Ram memories. I am so proud of your professional successes.

  To Volume 103, you all mean the absolute world to me. The Ram’s survival would not have been possible without your enthusiasm, diligence, and, most of all, humor. Your unwavering commitment to the Ram kept me and this newspaper afloat. 

  To Erica Weidner, Aidan Youngs, Katie Morris, Hunter Benegas and Vanessa DeJesús, thank you for knowing how to make a budget, removing all of the Oxford commas, making our website look pretty and picking up the pizza. I am so lucky to have had you.

  To Dylan Balsamo, your wit, aux abilities and compassion have been essential ingredients this past year. Thank you for the constant reassurances. You promised we’d surmount all the obstacles, and now I get to believe you.

To Ava Erickson and Hanif Amanullah, I am thrilled to pass the Ram onto you. I wish I could promise a challenge-free Volume — I can’t. But, I know that you will endure every hurdle with grace and tenacity, and I can’t wait to read all about it.