I joined the paper in Fall 2006 and found myself amongst ten or fifteen other first-years at the semester’s first staff meeting. I tried not to draw attention to myself as the editors assigned stories to everyone seated at the table in the Club Room. I was waiting for something exciting and interesting to jump out at me before I committed to writing my first article for a college newspaper. Nothing had caught my eye and the group was discussing the Opinions Section next.
Next thing I know, my friend Lisa is going on and on about how “dangerous” exiting Guam parking lot is for someone who is learning to drive. Yes, Lisa, for the 1 percent of students who still have their learner’s permit, perhaps it is “dangerous.” But this certainly wasn’t the article I was anticipating.
“Well, which one of you wants to write it?” asked the Editor-in-Chief.
“Mari, you should do it!” exclaimed Lisa. “I mean you don’t have a story yet…”
“Cool, Lis. Thanks,” I grudgingly responded. Needless to say, I didn’t talk to her for about three days. I could go on about how ridiculous this story assignment was, but enough said. I had to write about a stop sign in the freshman parking lot.
A week later, as I was driving out of Guam, I found myself face to face with a stop sign. All I could do was laugh uncontrollably until the car behind me started honking. Then it occurred to me that although I didn’t feel particularly strong about the problem, my short argument in the newspaper had actually made a difference.
Though I felt it was a dumb assignment at the time, it also taught me an important lesson about St. Mary’s: there really is no story too small. A students voice won’t go unheard. There will be discussion, and in many instances, there will be change.
I hope students take to heart how lucky we are that this community is inclusive. There are major decisions being made on campus this fall and we have the opportunity to voice how we feel about many of them. The Presidential Search Committee, the Capital Design Advisory Committee, the Working Group on Revenue Planning and Forecast and many other decision-making bodies invite students to engage in dialogue about the important issues facing our community. Rather than taking that for granted, get involved. If they are listening, then it’s our responsibility to speak up.