In a Windowless Room, Inspiration Is on the Walls

Courtesy+of+Nikoleta+Papavasilakis+for+The+Fordham+Ram.

Courtesy of Nikoleta Papavasilakis for The Fordham Ram.

Ava Erickson, Editor in Chief

I have sat at many desks in my life. The one in my childhood bedroom where I practiced my times tables and filled out countless college applications, my freshman year dorm desk where I discovered I was bad at biology, my current desk which is uncomfortably small to accommodate my NYC apartment and my go-to desk in the periodicals room in the library where I study and people-watch out the window. But I think my favorite desk, and the one it makes the most sense to write my From the Desk at, is my desk in the Ram office (which I will add is in the basement and has no big windows to romantically gaze out of). 

            The “editor in chief desk” is in the back corner of the office, which allows me to see everything that’s going on from my chair — which is one of the more comfortable chairs in the room, a perk of being the editor in chief. Over the past year I spent many hours observing this room, and I found that the things in it are truly a testament to what makes the Ram so special. 

            So, with that being said, here are some of my favorite things in the Ram office that I can see “from the desk.” 

            The Archives. For many years the Ram’s archives were stored in beautifully bound maroon books. As time went on, and budgets tightened, the print issues were stashed in file cabinets which now line the walls of the office. Several interesting issues are framed on the wall, and random old papers scatter the room. These archives are a testament to the incredible legacy and longevity of The Fordham Ram. I had the privilege to serve as editor in chief for the 104th year of this paper, an astounding number that wouldn’t be possible without all the amazing and dedicated staff members, writers, contributors and readers before us. Our archives are a time capsule of the university. You can pick any week in the past 100 years and find out what was going on at Fordham. The history contained in these archives is priceless.  

            Quote by Loretta Tofani. On a piece of printer paper tacked to the wall is a quote by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Loretta Tofani, the first female editor in chief of the Ram: “Journalism is supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Since Tofani graduated in 1975, many women have held the position and now, in fact, the majority of our staff is women. Tofani is an inspiration to me as throughout my life I struggled to speak up. I am soft spoken and I’ve been criticized for my “ditzy” vocal fry, but the Ram empowered me to share my voice, and I thank Loretta Tofani for paving the way for me and all the women on the Ram staff. 

            Center Spreads. The Ram sometimes prints center spreads that include a compilation of photos tied to a specific theme. Copies of these spreads, which contain photos of Fordham and the Bronx, are hung up on the walls throughout the office reminding me just how lucky I am to go to school here. As cliché as it sounds, when I first started at Fordham, I never would have believed I would be the editor in chief of the school newspaper — I was a biology major after all. But I was able to find my passion, and now I can’t imagine my time in college spent in any other way. These spreads are a symbol of the wonderful and life-changing experience I’ve had at Fordham, at the Ram and in New York City. 

The Printer. My fellow staff members are probably shocked to read this is one of my favorite things. In fact, on my first production night as editor in chief, the printer broke. As the culture editor the year before, I remember the printer breaking all the time, but it was never a big deal. Someone else always ended up fixing it, right? Well, that first night when the light turned red and pages stopped coming out, I realized, in a moment of panic, that the person who had to figure this out was me. Recently, the printer broke again. I calmly went through the problem-solving steps the IT department taught me and mulled over possible back-up printers around the school we could use. It wasn’t until later that I realized how symbolic this moment was for me. This year at the Ram taught me a lot about dealing with problems as a leader — from small things like the printer breaking to difficult ethical questions. So, I thank everyone on staff this year for your patience, because I made a lot of mistakes along the way. 

            Everything Else on the Walls. In addition to old issues, AP style guidelines and formatting rules, the walls of the Ram office are covered in pictures and notes. They range from heartfelt messages to inside jokes I can’t even begin to explain. These are a testament to the sense of community the Ram fosters. 

The Ram office is a place where you can create; laugh; struggle; share ideas; discuss morals, politics or life; fail and succeed. While I am endlessly proud of the skills and talents of everyone at the Ram, it is really the community that made this year so special. Michael, thank you for being the calm voice of reason in times of chaos and Hanif, thank you for your constant words of encouragement and positivity. And to the rest of the staff, I am so proud of everything you did this year. I can’t wait to see what you do next, both for the Ram and beyond. 

            Good luck everyone, and please keep hanging things on the walls of McGinley B52.