J. Christopher Proctor
There are no rules that cannot be broken. I’ve learned a lot of things from my three years at the Collegian, but no lesson has been as impactful, or as persistent, as the idea that the rules we thought were so critical, so basic to what we do each week, could be easily shattered.
In the spring of 2012 we at the Collegian had a groundbreaking realization that covers of the Collegian did not all have to look the same. The hard and fast rules we had held ourselves to—no photos over three columns long, at least three articles and two photos on the cover, the list goes on and on—were swept away, and the result was an exciting semester and a much more interesting paper.
The paper had transformed. But we soon settled on a new set of rules, although this time much more implicit. “We can’t do that because <insert rule>” turned into “we can’t do that, can we?”
Once again, we challenged the rules. We tried new things we never would have imagined doing just months before. We disregarded the boundaries we thought were limiting us, constraining us to “do what a college newspaper should do”.
And sometimes we made mistakes. And sometimes we went too far.
But overall the paper got better. And almost as importantly it was more fun to make. The monotony of producing the same paper every week turned to excitement to see what we would come up with next.
I’ve learned a lot about journalism in the last three years. I now know more about em dashes and Oxford commas than I ever wished to know. I also learned about the difficulties of running an organization, particularly one staffed with many of your closest friends.
But the lesson I will take away most from my time at the Collegian—and the advice I would like to offer, if you will indulge—is to challenge the rules.
Do not always break them, but always question them.
Some rules are outdated. Some rules were never needed in the first place. Challenge them and change the world.
In four years, I’ve worked for the Collegian as a writer, Sports Editor, Opinion Editor, News Editor, Copy Editor, Distribution Manager and Editor-in-Chief, an average of 1.5 different jobs a year. I’ve experienced it all: from the stress of finishing an issue at 4 a.m. on Sunday to the triumph when we were named one of the top three college papers in the nation, in our size category, by the Society of Professional Journalists.
Why have I stuck with this wonderful, weird, ragamuffin publication for so long? In short, because of the remarkable people I’ve had the privilege of laboring beside. They deserve many accolades for transforming the Collegian into a radically different (and more interesting) beast. Kate Kramer knew how to handle calamity with sangfroid, taking even bankruptcy in stride. Catherine Roberts, my mentor and model in all things journalistic, dared to envision a different future for the paper.
Lucas Forsythe, a man of many talents, knew the value of proper white balance, and showed me how to hold a Canon. Meredith Nelson brought sass and wit and down-to-earth decency to her job. Sarah Szabo, rara avis and loyal friend, proved that the phrase “most unique” is no malapropism.
Stephanie Hice, impeccable and individualistic, has been a delight to know. Let the record state that she is not a hipster. Conor Fellin, from day one, was obviously the man for the job, brilliant and unflappable, taking on the Powers That Be. Patrick Creedon exudes sincerity and dedication, bringing out the best in me and others. Will Bramlett expanded my knowledge of hockey and St. Louis by three orders of magnitude. Will Boogart and Amy Bunselmeyer brought fun to the newsroom while hunting down rogue Oxford commas.
Jill Graves, without whom the whole circus tent would have come apart at the seams, displayed both the patience of Job and the genius of Rembrandt. Morgan Kreuger left California for Oklahoma just to join our newspaper. Kyle Walker, paragon of passion and piquancy, with a predilection for populism, pulled no punches in pursuit of political perfection. Sarah Power stepped fearlessly into the madhouse that is our office and got right to (excellent) work. Anna Bennett brought flair and fire to the paper as State-Run propagandist.
Finally, I salute my partner in crime, Yin to my Yang, and dear friend J.Christopher Proctor. His unwavering drive to make the Collegian great has paid incredible dividends, and I could not have hoped for a worthier successor. J., thank you for the hard work and the fun.
One thing remains. Thank you to our readers (I’m assuming we have a few). This paper is for you, and to create it has been a high honor.
First of all, please accept my sincere thanks for providing me with the wonderful opportunity of working at The Collegian during my time at the University of Tulsa. It is hard to believe that I have worked on such a fabulous project for four years. Time has certainly flown by.
Through my work with The Collegian I have been a part of a team devoted to fostering change and instilling new, creative and intellectual ideas into the minds of our readers. From our in-depth investigations to our light-hearted reviews, our paper has come a long way, and has endured many changes during the past four years.
I have also had the wonderful opportunity to work with such a phenomenal staff. Through our work at The Collegian, we each have grown—matured—into the fine group of adults now ready to put our talents to use throughout the world.
It is difficult to believe that I will no longer be attending TU in the fall. The first shock came when I was not required to enroll for courses, the second, when I received an email highlighting the details of vacating my apartment and the third when I finished laying out the final Variety section of my career.
I will certainly miss TU. I will miss the amazing faculty, my friends and the city itself. In the fall I will be attending graduate school at Iowa State University. Although it will be difficult to up-root once again, I will enter my graduate studies more confident—more empowered—and I owe it all to my time here at TU; each new experience will simply add another notch in my belt, feather in my cap.
With these words, I must bid farewell to The Collegian and my beloved Variety section. The Variety section underwent many changes while I was its editor, and I know that it will continue to grow and develop year after year. In the words of Max Fischer: “Sic Transit Gloria—glory fades”—although the dedication and brilliance of future Collegian staff will never falter, and never diminish. Thank you.
Friends, followers, minions, I can’t believe this day has come. I told myself I wouldn’t cry. And because I’m still in denial, I probably won’t. But still.
Let’s be honest; I can’t wait to be done with this stressful college nonsense. It’s been great, but goddammit, I am so tired, you guys. I’m ready to let go of a lot of things, even if they’ve been really good. The Collegian, however, is not one of those things.
In the coming months, someone will probably discover me sleeping in the office, pretending to be the paper’s live-in “advisor.”
I’ve done a lot of things at TU that I’m very proud of (and a few things I’m not, but we won’t get into that) but nothing makes me prouder than looking back on everything we’ve done with this paper over the past few years. I mean, not to brag or anything, but have you seen this damn thing?
I’ve loved being a part of the Collegian’s transformation. It’s been a real honor working alongside these crazy kids. I can’t believe all the stuff J.Chris has let me get away with as State-Run editor this year.
Perhaps the thing I’ve been most thankful for is the diversity of my experience at the paper. I started out writing reviews my sophomore year, then suddenly, I got drafted to be the Photo/Graphics editor. That exposed me to the addictive rush of putting together something out of nothing, and then poof, the next day it’s on newsstands across campus. It’s incredibly rewarding.
I took a semester as a foreign correspondent, then came back as a staff writer. That was a very challenging semester for me; I always considered myself a creative writer, not a journalist. But hey, if these awards are an indication, I learned a few things along the way.
Ever since the infamous 2012 April Fool’s Day issue, the Collegian has been my own personal photoshop training ground. And the success of a humourous issue sowed the seeds of the State-Run Media.
But my time as State-Run editor has truly been my Magnum Opus as a newspaper man, a humorist and a senior. I will be forever grateful for this opportunity to be as ridiculous as possible, to photoshop nipples onto the Golden Driller and to write a recipe including the phrase “stupid whore feet.”
I am also really honored that even after all that, my fellow editors still take me seriously. I’ve reveled in being Lord of the Bullshit, but the fact that I can still have input on content, propose ideas and generate graphics has really made my experience here meaningful.
It’ll be my time here, the skills I’ve learned at this paper, that I put on my resume and try to use to be taken seriously as an adult. I’ll be moving to Chicago as soon as I can afford it, and while I’ll still pursue my dream of being an actor and comedienne, I’m going to need a day job. I sure as hell hope I can find a newspaper staff as fabulous as these guys.
Just minutes ago, I finished laying out my last Commentary Section ever, just one of 47 issues that have been my direct vision for what a section dedicated to student thought should look like. I had no idea that I would be here two years ago. I asked for the Opinion Editor job in September 2012 because I knew there was a vacancy, and I was tired of walking the two miles to Cherry Street for my restaurant job. I knew nothing of the process that goes into creating a newspaper every week or of soliciting ideas that people would find interesting. Only time will determine whether or not my contributions to this paper were of any worth.
Despite tenuous contributions, I now know way more of what goes into producing a coherent argument than I did during the first half of my career at TU. I learned that sometimes form should take precedent over function, especially when that function is loud, incoherent and slightly racist. Being balanced in focus is only useful to a community when both sides are articulate. Additionally, if you’re adamant enough, people will totally latch onto silly ideas. Visit the Room of Truth in our office for an example. I was also fortunate enough to learn just how important Sundays were to my productivity and gracious enough to mourn their loss.
Basically, this job was probably the best I ever could have asked for at the University of Tulsa. I got to produce something that became physical every week with people I respected immensely, people who became good friends and colleagues. This work has led to a satisfaction with both my life and with TU that I had not experienced before my time with the paper. To Kalen Petersen and J.Christopher Proctor, I must say thank you for letting me play journalist with you. To the Collegian’s readers, I thank you for reading the content that I thought was interesting enough to print. As I move to Columbus this fall to pursue a PhD in psychology, I cannot wait to see what comes from this section next year.
Amy Jo Bunselmeyer
When I was a freshman at the activities fair I signed up to be on the Collegian’s email list because I liked to write and I was looking for ways to get involved on campus. I quickly became involved in lots of things, and unfortunately the Collegian wasn’t one of them. It wasn’t until this semester – my final one here at TU – that I actually became a part of this paper.
I wish I had followed through freshman year, because then I could have worked along side all these wonderful people for even longer. I was welcomed as a copy editor and ended up writing some as well, and in the process I have built friendships that I know are going to last even when I move to New York in the fall.
I have loved writing and editing for the Collegian and I am truly going to miss it and all the Collegian staff next year. Thank you for a wonderful semester!