Sam LaFrance: In screaming color

Media Credit: Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

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.

There are a lot of things about my time at GW that I could regret. If I could turn back time, I would major in biological anthropology and maybe even go pre-med. I wouldn’t stay in SMPA, surrounded by people more passionate about politics than I would ever want to be and I wouldn’t let myself get bangs. And I would join The Hatchet years earlier.

I became design editor not because I possessed any of the exceptional talent of my predecessors, but because Sarah made me join the design team junior year and, later, because turnover among editors meant that I was pretty much the only option. I felt a little bit like Paul Ryan when he took the speakership, reluctantly filling a role I didn’t think was meant for me. But it turned out to be the best accident of my life.

When I first joined staff as a design assistant, my new Sunday routine fit comfortably and seamlessly with the rest of my life. It meant missing bottomless brunches and just about every award show, but I made those sacrifices because I instantly felt at home on the third floor of the townhouse.

The clean black and white of newsprint was attractive, but even more attractive were the pops of brilliant color that came along with it. I mean that literally of course, between the incredible work we got from photo and the intricate designs Sophie labored over each week, but I also mean it in a more abstract sense. The Hatchet added some much needed color to my life, which felt just a little bit too gray after coming out of a year of deep and unrelenting depression.

The Hatchet gave me an instant family on campus when it didn’t know how badly I needed it. When the tranquility of the third floor was punctured by an absurd promposal or Rachel’s need to introduce us all to a new twee pop artist, it didn’t feel like an interruption. It felt like the color was slowly coming back, Sunday evening by Sunday evening.

I am indebted to The Hatchet and its staff more than anyone outside the walls of 2148 F St. could possibly understand. Even though in the future I’ll be moving on from journalism, I’ll never stop being grateful for my time here, and I’ll never stop counting each and every person on staff as a friend. My wardrobe may still be pretty monochrome, but my life certainly isn’t.

Colleen: Would you rather be editor in chief as a sack of skin or a skeleton? Either way, I know you would still be an excellent leader, writer and friend. From the way you handle classic mix-ups during prodo to your efforts to make sure everyone on staff feels included, I’ve admired your leadership and diligence since day one.

Thank you for trusting me with the design team and for always sending me cool stuff about space and skulls. I’m looking forward to many more happy hours, but I’ll miss making fun of you for always tweeting out a fundraising link whenever something big happens in journalism or college sports. What if we just, like … leave it like that?

Sarah: I don’t even know where to begin.

The first thing you ever did to me was deny my friend request. Once you finally accepted me and the rest of Somers 330/331, you proceeded to tell us that you were a conservative and you asked us about cleaning supplies. It wasn’t your best first impression. If only I knew then what I know now.

We joke about being the same person: We occasionally walk out in the morning wearing the same outfit, we hate all the same things and the only thing we really disagree on is Johnnie Cochran. But every time someone compares the two of us, I feel a flutter of pride because being compared to someone as remarkable as you is nothing short of an honor.

I can count on one hand the times I’ve asked you what you’re doing and you didn’t say editing. Your constant and unwavering dedication to the opinions section is evident in every blog, column and essay, and The Hatchet was lucky to have someone with your talent. I know I get annoyed when you insist on changing the text wrap or fixing the tracking so you can get one more word on the page, but I know you only do it because you care so deeply about this paper.

I’ll stop now, before I hit the 300-word mark, but thnks fr making me join The Hatchet and for being my best friend. From the end of the hiatus to the beginning of the Zayn Train, I’ve been lucky to have you by my side.

Zach: I need a trigger warning for “gchat” because of you. You’re my absolute favorite person to complain about, but in reality I know you’re the foundation The Hatchet stands on. I have never met someone so dedicated to anything as you are to The Hatchet, and part of me wonders how there was a paper before there was a Zach to keep it running. I have nothing but respect for you, partially because you’re the only thing more pathetic than a Red Sox fan: a Mets fan.

Your faux-grumpy air isn’t fooling anybody. We know you love us all, and we love you back. You’re the best mortal enemy a girl could ask for.

RSG: I avoided Facebook messaging you for a few months after I joined staff because I knew what would happen: Our painfully embarrassing roommate search messages from 2012 would resurface. We’ve come a long way since our awkward and unfruitful conversation that summer, and I will never forget how much I wanted to be your friend when I first met you (in person). I haven’t been disappointed.

You were the best boss and colleague I could ask for, and I can’t envision reading approximately 1 million articles about feminism from 1972 for anyone else. Thank you for making me feel at home on The Hatchet and for introducing me to the slug lifestyle. Let’s go to goth night.

Brandon: I don’t exactly remember the first time we met, but I’m pretty sure I was offended. Our friendship is my most unexpected, as well as one of the most meaningful, even if it began by my yelling at you to please copy edit so I can replace content on the page.

By 11 p.m. on a Sunday, after about 12 hours of fighting with InDesign and Zach, I don’t want to see much of anyone. You are the exception to that rule. You’ve saved the page more times than I can count after I’ve gotten tunnel vision or I’ve just forgotten how text wrap works, and you’ve never let prodo get boring. Thank you for being the farmhand the third floor needs.

Standing in line for three hours in the freezing cold to see Scalia lying in repose sounds like a pretty awful time, and with anybody but you and Dan, it would have been. You’re the Rand to my Cory and the Doug to my Frank. I’m not sure which is worse.

Nora: The basketball guide was my first full issue as design editor, and it would be a lie if I said I wasn’t anxious about designing 12 pages about a sport I didn’t even follow. But then we sat down together for what was about to be the longest font search of my life, and I had never felt more at ease. That turned out to be my favorite issue of the year, and I ended up caring more about the basketball team than I could have ever expected, mostly because it was you next to me that day.

Your leadership on the sports team has been amazing to watch. Between you and Mark, my interest in college sports has grown exponentially; I went to exactly one basketball game during my freshman year, but this year I almost cried at your NIT coverage. You’re gonna kill it at The Globe, and I promise you can hang out with my cat when you’re in town. Thank you for the pod, and for being my friend.

Sorry about the text wrap.

Eva: Not to be dramatic, but you light up my world like nobody else. You are one of the most genuinely caring people I’ve ever known and you immediately brighten every room you enter. I am a better person for having you in my life.

We started as friends on the Internet and I wish I could go back and tell myself that the Red Sox fan with the best Twitter feed around would become such an important person in my life. Now, I hardly even mind that you’re from New Hampshire. I know you’re gonna do some amazing things next year, and I can’t wait to finally go get bottomless margaritas at brunch.

Des: Graphic design may not be your passion, but you have an unrivaled eye for visuals and a knack for making the paper look its best. Working with you on the front page is a highlight of my Sunday each week and I’m so glad that we’ve gotten closer this year, even if it means you’re sending me memes at midnight that make me cry laughing.

You are an incredibly talented photographer and one of the most patient editors on staff. From Photoshopping handwriting at 10:30 p.m. to quickly making a cutout to throw on front, you always handle the unexpected parts of the job with grace and a level head. New York isn’t gonna know what hit it.

Mark and Dan: You guys have made me care about college sports more than I thought was possible. I have so much respect for both of you and your work, and I can’t wait to see what you do next year (but if you don’t do the Bachelorette podcast, we might have a problem). Dan, you’re the curmudgeon staff needs and my favorite grandpa. Thanks for standing in the cold to see Scalia and for pointing out each and every dog that passed. Mark, keep the third floor savage.

Grace: You are one of the kindest people I know and I feel lucky to have been able to work with you, even if it was only for a little while. When you joined staff I immediately wanted to be your friend; you exude a sense of cool that I can only hope to achieve. Thank you for singing “Kiss You” with me at karaoke and for making that knowing eye contact with me while we listen to Brandon’s amoral outbursts. I would have joined your bowling league in middle school.

Emily and Anna: I genuinely don’t know what I would do without either of you. For some reason, you both stayed while I tried to gain my sea legs, even though my management style has been less than stellar. You are both amazing people and you’ve made hugely impressive contributions to the design team so far.

Watching you grow on staff has been one of the best parts of my job. You are both immensely talented and I can’t wait to see what you do for The Hatchet next year. Thank you for helping me, for putting up with me and for sticking around.

Sophie: Thank you for hiring me even though I could barely open InDesign by myself, and thank you for teaching me quite literally everything I know. You’re one of the most talented people I’ve ever met, but more importantly, you’re one of the strongest. I’m bummed that we don’t get to work together anymore, but you’re still my emo style icon.

Ellie and Jac: I can’t wait to see how the paper grows under the two of you. You are both immensely talented journalists and it’s been wonderful to work with both of you this year. Jac, watching you slash pages is a religious experience and I know you’re going to lead staff in incredible new directions. Ellie, your FOIA stories are nothing short of magical. Keep killin’ it. The paper is in your hands, and as scary as that is, I have every confidence that it will be stronger than ever under your leadership.

Melissa: The fact that you’re still not pessimistic about GW and politics is astounding, and so is your talent. You have big shoes to fill, but I know the ops page and Ed Board are in excellent hands.

Ed Board: When Robin asked me to join Ed Board, I was hesitant. I felt like I wasn’t qualified, like my opinion wouldn’t make a difference. But before long, it made me feel like an integral part of staff, and for the past year and a half I have looked forward to our weeknight discussions and arguments more than just about anything else. Thanks for letting me have a voice.

Jeanine: You always manage to put a smile on my face, and I hope to one day care about something as much as you care about Beyoncé and/or Drake. From culture to news, you’ve consistently excelled, and I’ve missed seeing you around during prodo.

Regina and Grace: You guys have truly made culture your own and I love talking to you about designs and iced coffee and Johnny Depp. I wish we had more opportunities to get to know one another outside of Twitter. Callie, you’ve got two amazing editors to work with and I love that you’re a part of The Hatchet. We’ve come a long way since you were a freshman and I’m thankful that I can count you as a friend. Give ‘em hell kid.

Team news: Your work this year – from unlicensed counselling directors to lost cadavers – has been a wild ride from start to finish. I don’t know how any of you do what you do, but I do know that I admire it. Keep it up next year, and to the new editors, you’re lucky to work with the people you do.

Katie: Thank you for helping to maintain the feminist killjoy vibe of the third floor. You’re a great photographer and an even better Snapchatter.

Tyler: I’m thankful for what I learned from you in the short time that you were my editor. Thank you for letting me step up, even if it was nerve-wracking at the time. I guess that if I compared myself to Paul Ryan, then that would make you John Boehner, so sorry about that. You’re a lot less orange and a lot more fun.

Sam, Karen, Peri, Hannah and Jonah: I could write 1,200 words about each of you alone, but I’ll save it for Commencement weekend. To keep it short, thank you all for letting me be a part of your lives for four years, and for hopefully many more. Just not in a group home or a cramped Chrysler Town and Country. It’s a paradise, and it’s a war zone.

Jane: I still can’t believe that we’ve been friends for as long as we have. My strongest memory of our childhood is crafting parachutes for our stuffed monkeys and throwing them out the window. Who would have thought we would make it this far? Thank you for sticking with me through my hippie and emo phases, for introducing me to One Direction before their music was even available in the U.S., and for understanding what I mean when I say “cheese juice.” I’m so proud of everything you’ve accomplished and I’m beyond excited to get Richardson’s when I get home. You’ll always be my best friend.

Mom and Pop: I love you both more than I could possibly express here, but thank you for everything and I promise I’ll come home to visit eventually. Marshall’s Instagram is a hit.

Future staff: You’re in for a wild ride. The paper is losing a lot of talent with this year’s Commencement, but I know that it will continue to thrive because it must, and because the staff of Vol. 113 is up to the challenge. The transition might be painful, but it’s necessary. And it’s making it possible for something beautiful to grow.


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