When we planned the final edition of The Mast three years ago, my then-graduating co-editors decided to use their last opinion section to reflect on their time with the paper. It was a sentimental spread dedicated to what they had learned about themselves and their futures from Pacific Lutheran University, their advisers, their peers and their involvement in student media. It was somewhat self-serving, but it was special — a kind of proper goodbye to the audience they had long-cared for and worked for and a way for them to process their experiences.
I fell in love with the idea and offered it to my staff the next year when I was the opinion editor and again last year as editor-in-chief.
Naturally, now that I’m graduating, the tradition had to continue. I’ve kind of been waiting for my own chance to create one of those sappy columns that has become a rite of passage.
I can’t believe it’s time for me to write it.
For nearly the past three-and-a-half years, a lot of my life has revolved around matters of this publication. Whether I was copy editing, assigning, writing, capturing, directing, uploading or laying out content, I’ve been closely involved in one way or another with the ins-and-outs of the organization.
I’ve experienced more than I ever could have imagined. I’d like to say “I’ve seen it all,” but I know I haven’t. Each day I am in the throes of it, I’m constantly encountering something new. In hindsight, I’ll say I’ve enjoyed every minute of it — but I can’t say I always felt like that as it was happening.
There was a moment a couple years ago when I contemplated quitting The Mast. Actually, there have been a few of them. It’s stressful to be a student journalist, to balance the obligations and expectations of school while also working for an organization with an increasing interest in becoming bigger and broader and better, even when that growth comes with idealistic expenses. The pressure to do more and be more and create more is constantly met with the reality of time, money, resources and necessity. Caring so much about something that sometimes meets you with stagnancy and opposition is extremely frustrating. But, because I stayed with it, I know it’s also extremely worth it.
In February, The Mast celebrated its 90th year as a fixture of PLU. We planned a small gathering with a chocolate cake for a Tuesday night and sent invitations to Mast alums.
And they showed up. Former contributors from the 1940s all the way to our present-day staff showed up for this event. It astounded me that 10, 20 or nearly 70 years later those individuals still cared about The Mast. They wanted to know what kinds of stories we were tackling, how our office space looked and how technology had transformed our operations. Because of ongoing change, their familiar paper now seemed noticeably different.
The Mast is always changing. Whether it’s an increased number of pages in the print edition, the use of color on the front page, the creation of a new section of content, a more encompassing website, a merger with another student media outlet or just the varying leadership that happens yearly because it’s a student-run production, The Mast is and always will be changing.
The Mast is already much different now than it was when I first joined its staff. Regardless, our 90th anniversary reminded me that throughout it all, some things are constant.
The paper has always had a dedicated community that strives for bigger and broader and better. Because of that, it’s been something that builds off itself as it moves forward, taking ideas and work from previous years and incorporating that into its progress.
I doubt that will ever change.
I can’t thank you enough for the amazing privilege of being part of this paper’s history. Although I’ll now be viewing from the bittersweet sidelines, I’m excited to see what happens next. In fact, I’m already looking forward to The Mast’s 100th anniversary.