Lauren French: If only these walls could talk

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.

Everything I love about The Hatchet hangs on its walls.

The yellowing pages from my first issues as editor in chief are slowly crinkling off my office’s walls, but they still remind me daily of how much effort the 25 people who huddle here Sundays and Wednesdays put into the paper. More importantly, these front pages mark the passing of time. At first it seemed impossible that 120 issues could fill four walls, but as the issues turned into volumes and my final day at The Hatchet approaches, I’ve run out of room.

And that is exactly how it is supposed to be. My inches are out, but the paper will roll on – an anchor for those lucky enough to call this townhouse home.

The walls, however, are our testaments to the people who carefully navigated the “winder” up the stairs to pour the better part of their collegiate careers into these pages. Though the institution of The Hatchet will quickly forget the editors as each volume closes, the walls memorialize these bastions of 2140 G. That is why I love them.

The photos of unknown suit-clad editors writing copy on typewriters are thrown up next to the letters from SJT, which are next to the memos I hope will one day be a Hatchet tradition in their own right.

This is our history, but even after three years of spending more time in this place than any other, I know so little of it. I’m unsure when the “this side of the line” shirt was created; I can’t remember who took the Bhangra photo, and I am clueless as to who is sitting next to Snow – whom I’ve finally conned into thinking I’m sort of cool – sipping that giant margarita. But they are still all immortalized on the walls, lasting.

We each try so hard to leave a mark on the paper – to be remembered by our last names once we’re gone – but it is a goal few achieve. So we resign to being on the walls, which really does give us more longevity than someone remembering our last names.

That’s why I love those walls. We’re not important in the grander scheme of the paper, but the walls are shrines to those legendary Hatcheteers who covered the assassination attempt on Reagan as thoroughly as the Post. The walls show our seriousness with the awards that have taken over much of the space, as well as our silly side, with Roper’s face staring down from that long-forgotten training manual. They show our (fake) athleticism, our love of strange trinkets and our nostalgia for good journalism.

Secretly, these walls, this foundation, always meant a little more to me. I lived in 10 houses before I found a true home at 2140 G. Rather than looking back at a childhood home with walls that marked my physical growth, I will instead look back at this townhouse and see how my emotional and journalistic growth is marked on pages, on photos and, of course, on the walls. For a kid who grew up without a permanent house, 2140 G has been an amazing substitute.

It was photo editor Nick Gingold who first talked to me about the walls, something I imagine he no longer remembers. I wanted to go over edits with Scire, but she was late (or maybe I was early) to office hours. As Nick was toning at the photo desk, he asked me how I was liking the paper, and if I planned to apply to be an editor. Then we started talking about the wall of fame. He showed me the people he knew and the ones he didn’t, and said that so much of the dedication Hatchet editors have is to honor the people who are already on the walls. Be great now, he said, so you can uphold the reputation the people before you have built.

I remembered this advice often during my four years on The Hatchet. I tried to add only to that wall of fame and never the alternative wall of shame, but I was never perfect, and my contributions will ultimately rest on both.

So if these walls could only talk, they would speak of nearly 20 years of dedication, of April Fools’ buffoonery, of best friends and passionate fighting. They would hint at the 80 years of Hatchet that didn’t happen at 2140 G, and they would brag about the many accolades the staffs won while practically living inside the townhouse. They would mention the heartache that comes with leaving the townhouse for the last time, as seniors realize that the walls are no longer theirs, and instead finally belong to another generation of Hatcheteers.

Mostly they would talk of love – the love that goes into the paper every day – because it is the love of The Hatchet that keeps editors inside the walls for so long.

And for me, as The Hatchet was always about the people, there are overdue thank yous I must give before I close my office door for the last time.

To the newest batch of editors: You have 108 years of excellence behind you. Ask the hard questions, demand good answers and when you feel as if the weight of “no comment” is too much, remember The Hatchet has outlasted every administrator and archaic media policy. Just focus on making the paper better than it was when you inherited it and you can be proud.

Annu, Marie, Trent, Ewing and RLee: Thank you for your hard work and dedication. You are creative, smart and added an unmatched personality to your pages and videos.

Gendel, Lisa, Amanda, Ryan and Jenna: I’m sure my nightly bellowing asking if “pop-up” had a hyphen got annoying after a while – okay, after the first time – but you are the final line of defense that stops us from looking stupid, and that is never an easy job. Thank you for the long nights. Vol. 108, I look forward to IHOP (kind of). Lisa, you will rock culture. I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

Tim, Justin and Erica: Having the three of you to remind me to think about students and the staff first was an important lesson. Thank you.

Perlman, Doug, Madeline and Lauren: I honestly can not count the number of times I thought of everything that needed to happen to make the paper run, and never needed to worry about you and your work. You did it excellently and I am thankful I had you to rely on.

Jennings, Dev and Rachel: Masters of the Internet, your long nights are underappreciated twice weekly, but you are fundamental to the paper you never touch. Jennings – I can’t wait to see the new site. You deserved the chance to build it last year, and that was my mistake. Show us what you can do.

Michelle, Anne, Chris, Jordan and Francis: You did excellent work making the paper colorful while having an editor who was way too obsessed with the very gray Rice Hall. You taught me how to compromise big pictures for words. Thank you.

Miranda: Thank you for putting up with me each time I came home at 3 a.m. from a late night of editing. I know I woke you up most – okay, each – time, and you were supportive of the job for the entire year. I’m very proud of you and your new job and will miss living with you.

Morgenstern: I was honored to work with you last year. You rocked it every single day and I missed you so much in year two. Amy: Our veteran, you worked harder than anyone else and it saved us so often. Hadley: I was shocked when you told me you “didn’t like the Internet,” because you were so talented with it. But you are talented with everything, so I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise.

Priya: Keep in mind that it’s bigger than you. Trust your gut, and remember news pegs are important. Make me proud.

Cory: You have a raw talent for writing that is hard to come by; don’t let anything get in your way of being great.

Wajert: You did an incredible job this year, and I’m so thankful for your hard work. You brought development to a new level, and I don’t think the paper will ever be the same. Be proud of this year. No matter what, you’ll still be my first phone call when I get in the trouble we all know will come.

Dan and Alberg: I’ll miss asking you sports questions. Thanks for never laughing, at least to my face, when I wanted to know what an “insert random, but common sports term here” was. Thank you even more for the support and the advice.

Sherman: Thank you for answering all my frantic texts and Gchats, for teaching me to think like a journalist and for sitting with me in random Starbucks to teach me how to be a better editor.

Gabe: Teasing you about the blog was one of my favorite things, but in all honestly, you were diligent in your own way about making them excellent. Thank you for taking on two jobs and doing them both without (very much) complaint. I will miss your dry humor at midnight.

Bowman: We’ve come so far from purple hair and floor-length skirts. Despite those bumps, I’m glad you had my back from eighth grade until graduation. When you’re famous, I’ll brag that I knew you when. Let’s burn those photos now.

Elfring: Having our late-night talks turn into a real friendship was one of the best parts of my Hatchet tenure. You have a great deal yet to do for this paper. Be amazing. Also, do you have any snacks for me?

Becky: You’re one of the coolest people to ever pass through 2140 G, and I spent much of last year hoping that you thought I was kind of cool too. Forcing me to go out and have fun after elections meant a lot, and I will appreciate it endlessly.

Ferris: I’m so very proud of you. When I drive off the map with Radler, I’ll send you my whereabouts so you can find us. Remember that you will change this paper for the better. Don’t ever stop demanding answers and excellence.

Louis: Graduating after you is clutch, as I can tell the world that I won all seven times and you have no room to argue. Thanks for still being my friend, even though all I ever talked about was The Hatchet. Let’s be real friends in the post-2140 G era. I’ll be fun again.

Cahn: To my first senior news editor, we could have had a more functional relationship, but then it wouldn’t have been us. Having you at my side for a year was the only way I could have been sane enough to take on another volume. Thank you again and again for the long hours. I secretly loved all of your complaining (okay that isn’t true but, you know what I mean).

Roper: Your well-timed criticism and support made me stronger and better, and I hope I made you proud. I could not have asked for a more supportive first-year EIC, though writing in your office almost gave me a heart attack. Please play volleyball with me again.

Hadas: I was petrified of you for a solid month, before I got to know what a remarkable person you are. You’d still be my first call if I needed a news editor for “just a few weeks.” It was the last thing you wanted to do, so thank you for saying “yes.”

Traynor: My beautiful little one, you are just as talented as the editors you hold in high esteem, but look so much damn better in a dress. Believe in yourself, and don’t ever doubt your considerable talent. I’m not going anywhere. DTS.

Andrea: Having you as senior news editor this semester made me question how I ever functioned without you. Your talent impresses me, your humor makes every situation better and your friendship is a gift. There were indeed people on that street.

Viktors: Our friendship is one of the best gifts The Hatchet gave me. You made me feel welcome within the first week, and the support you continued to provide – the way you always stood up for me is a testament to the amazing friend you are. Thank you. Now let’s celebrate.

Radler: Ocean City started our friendship, Froggy started my obsession and the 60 issues in between made me adore everything about you. You had a natural talent for being an editor and you achieved what most of us only hope to do: You left it better than when you inherited it. I will see you in Africa. DTS.

Turley: I’m still unsure how I convinced you to be the features editor, but I count myself lucky that you dedicated your senior year to making culture something great. But I’m even luckier that you count me among your friends; it’s a title I covet dearly. I’m amazed by your confidence, skill and ability to make me laugh. You made the long nights worth it. Thanks for calling me on all my shit. DTS.

Alex: I couldn’t have done year two without you. Thank you for everything. I love you.

Scire: I have tried to write this message to you for months. How do you thank a person in 30 words that changed your life so completely? But you did. I would have never done any of this if you didn’t steal me. If you didn’t mentor me. If you didn’t push me. If you didn’t believe in me. If you didn’t turn into the best friend The Hatchet gave me.

Mom: Thank you for the unwavering support. I love you so much for everything you gave me. -30-

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