Annu Subramanian: A Hatchet Education

Media Credit: Gabrielle Demczuk | Senior Photo Editor

Managing Director Annu Subramanian likes Deli sandwiches, afternoons on Hatchet Bench and asking the last question during hot seat.

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 came to The Hatchet’s open house the first week of my freshman year and I knew I wanted to be an opinions writer. Nervous and clutching my campus map, I walked through the door, headed past the tchotchke-filled shelves toward the faded couch and said hello to Justin and Lyndsey.

If I had known this day would be a major turning point in my life, I probably wouldn’t have worn jorts.

But this was my introduction to The Hatchet, and it was love at first sight.

I picked up an application to be an opinions writer and knew the competition was fierce, so I had to nail it. The result was a column about why GW should be more like Hogwarts. It was bad.

I could have been turned away. Instead, Justin emailed me and said he was running the piece. I was elated.

I strived to impress Justin Guiffre from the day I joined The Hatchet. From his encouragement to his wildly creative writing style, he was the editor I always wanted to emulate. Justin revolutionized page four, and his legacy will endure long after anyone knows his byline.

To me, column-writing was sort of like putting together Ikea furniture. You’ve got, like, two vague instructions and a whole lot of material to work with. And then you just have to put it together and sometimes it works and sometimes you wind up with a strange appendage on the final product. But that’s okay because it’s all yours and that’s your pride.

I found a visceral joy in column writing and I wrote a whole bunch of them my freshman year. I wasn’t afraid to be strange and I was very proud of my work. I was idealistic and curious and if I wanted to learn more about something, I’d find brilliant strangers to get coffee with me and answer my breathless line of questioning.

I also felt pretty alone. Maybe most freshmen do.

In the spring of my freshman year, I was selected to be The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.

From that moment on, the Townhouse was no longer a threshold I felt unworthy to cross. And sophomore year was a total blast. I had the honor of working with and befriending Logan and Corey and Sara and Montana, people I still believe are celebrities on the opinions page. I would laugh my ass off with Louis and would look forward to wisdom from Erica. Ops. Loved. Prodo. We celebrated Gabe’s citizenship and Jordan and I surprised staff with the Hatchet Rap. Homework nights at the Townhouse devolved into Whitney Houston sing-a-longs. It became my second home and I finally had a GW family.

I also fully realized that this newspaper prints every Monday and Thursday because behind it there’s a group of students that works like hell. They bite off more than they can chew, then chew anyway. They push impossible limits: of sleepless nights, of coffee cups consumed, of number of times they can hear a country song before wanting to kill prodo.

We might all live one InCopy crash away from lunacy, but the Townhouse buzzes with the collective energy of so many passionate people, and it’s a thrilling atmosphere to work in.

I befriended some sensational people my sophomore year. Like Lyndsey. Her self-proclaimed lack of opinions made her a killer editor and even-handed leader in edboard. I’ll always cherish our year working side by side at The Hatchet, but our friendship has grown even more since. We lived together, still go splorin and everyday we pick up a thread of our conversations that are perpetually to be continued. I don’t know what I would do without her.

That summer, I went to Zambia with Anne and she taught me how to be a storyteller. Her ability to make people at ease while simultaneously thrusting a lens in their faces is bizarre and awe-inspiring.

Speaking of awe-inspiring: Jordan Emont. The boy is more supernova than human. His friendship means the world to me.

I took the reigns as opinions editor my junior year. Through running a section, I learned that working to build a team of dedicated Hatcheteers is a challenge and a thrill.
The writers and cartoonists I had the honor of working with motivated me endlessly. Learning from and helping a dynamic crop of writers – including Patrick, Ben, Jacob, Alli and Andrew – grow is still my proudest, and favorite, part of college.

We shared cigars and bourbon at BrOpinions night, kvetched over Froggy pizza, reinforced each other’s insomnia, turned office hours into wild brainstorming sessions and rolled deep at Student Association meetings.

And at my side was the sunshine in my junior year: Doug Cohen. Doug is always supportive and always hilarious. The perfect co-editor. His logic and structure were anchors to my right-brained tendencies and I still hope we can point-counterpoint one day.

Also by my side was my other half: Rachel Lee. Boundlessly positive and resilient, she’s the friend and roommate I looked to (still look to) for everything, from deep life chats to adventures around the District to coffee dates that devolve into laughing fits so intense we can’t breathe. Lazy afternoons on Hatchet Bench with her will remain some of my fondest college memories.

Priya was elected editor in chief. What a blessing for the paper. People wait their whole lives to fall in love with something the way Priya has with journalism. We have been inseparable since freshman year and even though we complain about it, I am honored to constantly get mistaken for someone so caring, caffeinated and courageous. Our friendship is without a doubt one of the greatest gifts The Hatchet has given me, and it’s not going anywhere.

Patrick took over the opinions page for Volume 109 and made it reach new heights. He might be the only person I know who hasn’t had the big bad world stomp the honesty out of him, and it’s disarming in the best way. I might have been his editor first, but he taught me more over the last two years than anyone else has.

It was also junior year that I began spending more time with Gabriella Demczuk, whose talent burns so bright. Through her eyes, the world is always beautiful and through her photographs, we access that. I can’t wait to travel the world with her.

My senior year, I became The Hatchet’s managing director. Leaving the opinions page was difficult, but my new job let me do something that comes naturally: channel my love for the paper to a burgeoning crop of Hatcheteers. Despite the changed responsibilities, it’s been a truly gratifying year and culmination of my Hatchet career.

But some things didn’t change. Like my friendship with Gabe. How do I describe someone so completely woven into my college experience I would probably unravel without him? After three and a half years and countless 2 a.m. walks, all I can know for sure is that our bond is unmatched and only we understand how much we needed each other’s friendship. And I’ll always be grateful for that.

Late nights don’t change. And I always found myself spending an unintended extra hour at the Townhouse, laughing til my sides hurt with Ryan and Amanda. They’re rock stars, and I miss them already.

Froggy Mondays and The Deli didn’t change. Hui and Joe kept me from going hungry, and behind their sass are hearts of gold.

The column writing didn’t change, either, though it grew with me. In columns over these four years, I’ve advocated for an undie run, dissected GW’s sexual assault policies, questioned the administration’s opacity and spoken out against the University’s response to its unranking. I wrote cathartically about the uncertainty of the future.

I felt passionate about everything I inked.

But now, my time here is done. The future is bright for The Hatchet. It always is!

Justin and Jacob are going to do a great job as ops editors next year. Smart writers and sharp thinkers, the page is in good hands with them. And luckily they’ve got The Hatchet’s brightest staffer on their team: Jenna Bernick.

And Cory will be editor in chief. I’m thrilled. He understands this medium better than anyone else, and I’m eager to see how he leads the paper next year. He is the only person I know who could one be a famous reporter, play Mark in RENT and manage the Red Sox; it’s no wonder “Versatile” is his middle name. My only advice? Don’t forget we’re teaching paper first.

I’m still thankful, all the way down to my skeleton, that freshman year I was randomly assigned to live with Cat, Emma and Gaby. Despite us being unlikely friends, they are my home. Still. They’re my escape from Hatchetland and together we are the silliest – and the best – versions of ourselves. Graduation might be the end of an era for us, but since we have each other, we’ll never, ever be alone.

And I’m glad that on the first night of freshman year I pestered Cameron, my first real friend at GW and the one who’s stuck around through everything. He was ready for the future while we were still getting accustomed to college, and I can’t wait to see how he makes his mark.

And last, they might live across the country, but the most important people in my world remain my family. Mom, Dad, Didi, Jeej, Tejus, Megan and Stephanie are the reasons I made it through college. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you can leap from any height as long as you know you’ve got a net. And I’ve got the strongest. I’ll spend my life trying to return a fraction of their unconditional love.

Everytime I tell a curious freshman or prospective student about The Hatchet’s long history, it’s not just because the fact that we’re the second-oldest newspaper in D.C. is hot. It’s a promise that this institution is a true GW fixture, possessing more knowledge and insight and stories and inside jokes than anywhere else on campus. It’s been here way longer than we have, and will remain even after no one knows who we are, teaching future generations of journalists the latest skills and pushing them to achieve more than they ever thought they could.

Future Hatcheteers, good luck, learn a lot and don’t hold back. Oh, and welcome home. –30–

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