My last opinion

In reviewing my past four years at Chips, I am struck by the surrealness of this particular moment. I am currently writing, and you are ostensibly now reading, my final piece. How does one condense the accumulated work and feelings of an entire college career into a single 600-word-or-so article? How do I explain to you, someone who probably knows nothing about any of this, just how much of me is constructed around this organization? 

I began working at Chips my first semester of freshman (sorry, first) year, mainly to get out of dining services. I was a prospective English major, and figured that, if nothing else, the experience would hone my objective writing skills. I did not anticipate how invested I would become in the work. I overcame my natural shyness to approach complete strangers for interviews, and enjoyed hearing and reporting on their unique experiences or perspectives. I liked having a mandated reason to participate in campus activities and events, to meet new people. I took what I now as an editor realize were way too ambitious “creative” risks, and was finally rewarded when one of my articles was selected as the recommended read of the week for the final 2018-2019 edition. 

It was during my tenure as Features Editor sophomore year that my enduring passion and love for Chips became fully apparent. I adore layouts, and what’s more, I am fantastic in them. I don’t care to brag, but I’m gathering my flowers where I can, and I truly dominated in this one specific (and ultimately insignificant) thing. For the first time in a strictly occupational setting, I was just good at what I was doing. I was confident, proud, ready for any given adverse scenario (and there were many). And then the craziest thing happened!

I, along with the entire editorial staff, was in the Chips office when *that* email was sent out to the student body. Looking back, I had no clue that that moment would become a core memory for me, but if you were to ask me now to pinpoint the exact instant COVID-19 became real to all of us, it would be this. Two years and a pandemic later, I still haven’t summoned the heart to erase the issue number and date former Editor-in-Chief Cara Keith (‘20) stopped writing to listen to then News Editor Kyle Brusco (‘22) read that email aloud for a captive audience. It stands as a memorial to the start of one of the most challenging periods in Chips history.

When I stepped into the position of Editor-In-Chief, I did so without a clear understanding of what that role entailed. With the exception of my Managing Editor Kyle Brusco and Head Copy Editor Ursula Dates (‘22), all other editing staff had graduated the previous spring, meaning we never had the opportunity to train in, or even learn the basics of our predecessors responsibilities. What’s more, our budget was reduced and we were to phase out print for electronic medium alone. It would be one of (if not the) most radical changes in Chips’ 136 year history. It became something of an unspoken expectation that we might kill Chips, or it would at least die under our care. None of us really knew what we were doing, but at least we were doing something in community. And, all things considered, it turned out okay, occasionally even great. It wasn’t the same as it had been, and I’m not sure it ever will be again, but I do not say this to diminish what we accomplished together as a staff. We produced content, and quality content at that, during a time when most people were becoming accustomed to inactivity. I certainly think that’s something to be proud of, and I will be proud of it, as we continue to adapt to this brave new world.

This year, my second as EIC, has been an odyssey of lasts. Last news article, last interview, last photo, last scandal (shout out to the squirrels), last everything. And now this – the last opinion. Or open letter, as the case may be. I want to tell you all of the absolutely insane,and infuriating, and wonderful stories I have from this job, but I haven’t the space. What I can tell you is that Ihave never once regretted my time here. In spite of the frustrations, the tears, and the sleepless nights spent agonizing over minute editing details, I still look back on my time at Chips as some of the most valuable of my college career. It prepared me far better than a classroom for future career considerations, such as managing the schedules and temperaments of employees or working towards a deadline. It showed me the joy of communal creation, of working together to craft a seamless whole. It taught me of my own strength and capacity for leadership, while also allowing me to exist fully as myself.

To those to whom I leave Chips: Take care of it. This has been my baby for two years, and I will be very sad if you drop it. Jack – Edit boldly. Peter – Embrace your talents and unique perspective. Ethan – It’s okay if you leave something for others to edit;) I have every confidence that the next executive administration is exactly the team needed to usher Chips through its next great transformation. I wish you and all future staff members the very best. 

For the last time,

Olivia Schmidt, CHIPS EIC