Miranda Gendel: My semester on the inside

Each year, graduating editors are given 30 final column inches – “30” was historically used to signify the end of a story – to reflect on their time at The Hatchet, published in the final issues of the year.

I knew a surprising amount about The Hatchet before I ever stepped inside the townhouse. An alarming amount, really. Being friends with Emily Cahn since freshman year, I learned my fair share about the newspaper’s storied history – and by “storied history,” I mean gossip about people I’d never met. By the time I actually became part of The Hatchet, as a copy editor at the end of my junior year, I felt like I already knew everyone on staff.

Does that sound majorly creepy? Oh, well, it’s already out there, might as well own it. When I became part of the staff, I was admittedly pretty intimidated – I’d heard so many epic, ridiculous stories in the nearly three years leading up to the moment I officially became a Hatchet staffer, and suffice it to say, it was a lot to live up to. There was no way I could possibly live up to all the crazy shenanigans I had been told of so fondly… or was there?

Simply enough, the answer was yes. It was easy to feel like part of the group when everyone there – all the jaded veterans, all the freshman newbies and everyone who fell in between – was so incredibly welcoming and friendly and completely unintimidating, despite everything I had expected.

Each year, graduating editors are given 30 final column inches - called 30 pieces - to reflect on their time at The Hatchet. Browse all.

Before I knew it, before I had even flipped through the 2010 copy of The AP Stylebook (sorry, French, I know I was probably supposed to have already done that), I felt like one of the gang – albeit, a pretty dysfunctional, rambunctious gang, I would soon come to learn, but still, that was what made my brief time in the townhouse so special, in all senses of the word. I was also a little apprehensive about working as a copy editor, considering my lack of experience in that capacity.

Sure, I had gamely agreed to check roommates’ papers in the past for errant commas or a dangling participle here and there, but somehow, I knew this gig would be slightly more demanding.

‘Thank god it would be two of us!’ I thought to myself. Then I met Becky, who would work alongside me in the copy-editing trenches, debating over hyphenated versus unhyphenated words and trying to remember the difference between effect and affect (or maybe that was just me). And the rest, as they say, is history. Well, Hatchet history. Or not.

As soon as I made some dumb sarcastic remark that she actually laughed at instead of giving me a strange look, I knew we would get along. I had actually met someone who might be more sarcastic than I am, which I didn’t even think was possible. Even on those epic production nights that lasted until 3 a.m., we always managed to find dumb things to laugh about, even if no one else found us funny. Which was often the case, as Gabe in particular showed us on the many occasions he would visit the Copy Corner and we’d start making ridiculous jokes, only to be greeted by his blank stare before he’d return to the more normal sections of the office.

A lot of my time in the townhouse was spent coming up with ways for us to entertain ourselves for those stretches of time in between when pages were ready. It was during those hours that Emily – who will always be Emily to me, never Cahn – somehow found her true calling, as a haiku poet. I never knew haikus could be so entertaining – seriously, Emily, if you ever get sick of the whole muckraking journalism thing, just know that you can always fall back on your undisputed talent for haiku-writing.

Reading the sports pages, in particular, was usually entertaining, since I had probably never read the sports section of any paper in my life, which should come as a shock, to, oh, no one. Editing that page was an exercise in scrambling to look up pretty much every other term. Even after Louis laughed at us in the patronizing, you-know-nothing-about-sports way to which I’d grown so accustomed, I’m still sticking to the idea that “goal pots” is a legitimate sports term. That’s definitely a thing. Just saying.

I feel like I have so many stories from my short time at The Hatchet, but it would be impossible for me to choose just one to tell here. Mostly because, odds are it would be somewhat inappropriate, and no one outside of The Hatchet would really find it funny. But that’s the beauty of working for The Hatchet, even if it’s only for one semester, and your last one as an undergraduate at that – even in a brief amount of time, you will find people here with the same weird, irreverent sense of humor and an interest in Japanese proverbs that you probably wouldn’t find anywhere else. -30-

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