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.
It’s no secret that I believe in ghosts. I tried once to track them down on this campus. They wouldn’t come out, but I know they were there.
There are two places at GW that I’m almost certain are haunted. The first is the basement of Munson Hall, where I had the misfortune of trying to use a possessed washing machine. The second is The Hatchet townhouse.
While I have fallen asleep in this townhouse multiple times only to be awoken by unexplained creaking sounds, The Hatchet’s ghosts are not ones that can be conjured by a ouija board.
I have come to terms with the fact that I’m going to become a ghost soon. In order to turn into a ghost when you die, your spirit has to be so attached to a certain place on earth that it never dies with you. So it just stays there and torments the people who inhabit it after you. At least this is what I have gathered from watching countless exorcism movies and “reality shows” about demon-hunters.
I’m not actually going to die (at least not anytime soon, I don’t think). But a big part of my identity will when they finally take away my door code and remove my name from the masthead. And even if I never set foot in this townhouse again, I can only hope that my spirit will still haunt it.
There are 113 years of student journalists that have built this paper. Some of them are long-gone, but the photos, awards, letters (both fan mail and hate mail), stuffed animals, posters and stories they left behind will never die.
I hope there’s something that I’ve contributed to this paper that has earned me a spot among the collective spirit of past Hatchet editors. Even if it’s my never-ending struggle with gray squares. Even if it’s my tweet correcting the spelling of “Foggy Boton” to Foggy Bottom. Even if it’s my embarrassing attempt to write a story proving the existence of ghosts on this campus. I hope there is something I’ve done that will stay alive with future generations of Hatchet staffers for another century. I hope you guys can never get rid of me.
Colleen: When I first took over culture with zero idea what I was doing, you were the most patient and helpful Editor in Chief I could ask for. You always had creative ideas when I was short on them, and you allowed the culture section be a space for funny and adventurous stories. Without your open-mindedness and confidence in me, I would have never been able to find my voice on The Hatchet.
Zach M: I don’t think anyone could really appreciate what you did for The Hatchet until you left and we had to split your role up between three different people. If it weren’t for the groundwork you laid here, my job would have been a lot harder. Thanks for yelling at me to stop putting periods at the ends of tweets, it helped me save a lot of characters.
Brandon: Coming back to the townhouse after Paris and realizing that the white board on the third floor no longer kept track of your most recent offensive jokes was a weird adjustment. I’m so glad The Hatchet introduced me to one of the smartest people I know, even if you correct my grammar and start arguing about guns at parties. Though you will never change my political views, you’ve taught me to keep an open mind, so…congrats on that. Thanks for giving me rides in your Mustang.
Jeanine: My first impression of you is that you were beyond cool and beyond terrifying. Now that I’ve gotten to know you better, I’m relieved that you’re still beyond cool and significantly less terrifying. I’m lucky to have had an incredible writer like you to teach me the ropes at The Hatchet, and I am forever indebted to you for scoring me a press pass to see Champagne Papi at Landmark Fest.
Grace: I cannot stress enough how smart of a decision you made to flee this city (and country, for that matter), but I have also missed you so much this semester. When I first took over culture, Jeanine told me that writers like you would be a godsend and make my life so much easier. Ever since I sent you to meet some interesting (for lack of a better word) folks at some interesting head shops, I knew she was right. You are one of the funniest people I know, you have good opinions about almost everything and you are one of the few people who loathes Leonardo DiCaprio as much as I do. I eagerly await your return to Twitter dot com but until then, I hope you’ll still message me about the latest episode of “Who? Weekly,” even after I’ve graduated and am no longer relevant.
Ellie: Sometimes when I scroll through our Twitter and Facebook, I think about how it seems more like this paper is run by an 80-year-old woman than a group of college students. I can’t even imagine the stress you deal with on a daily basis, and I’m sorry If I’ve ever contributed to it by posting a Twitter handle that doesn’t actually exist. Thank you for having a good sense of humor about my typos, tolerating my bad newsletter puns, smashing that like on all of our posts and giving me a role on The Hatchet that meant I would never have to log off. Foggy Boton forever.
Jacqueline: When I sat across from you in our early morning or three-hour SMPA classes last semester, I used to wonder how you did it. Your commitment to this paper is one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen. It also means that you’ve seen some pretty wild things and probably know more about GW than anyone I’ve ever met, so I always look forward to hearing your stories about this campus and the people on it. You’ll make a great journalist one day, and an even better Clickhole writer.
Eva: Scream. I don’t think there’s anyone at The Hatchet who understands my need to access my inner drama queen as much as you. I appreciate that your hatred for The [Redacted] Online runs as deep as mine does. Thanks for being my most loyal Twitter fan on staff.
Ryan: Je voulais écrire mon message à toi tout en français, mais en ce moment je suis trop paresseuse pour faire l’effort. Tant pis. You’re the only person who understands the misery of returning to GW after spending a semester in Paris, and I am sending you all of my prayers to get through another year here. Some of my favorite memories on The Hatchet involve you, whether it’s us being messy at Holiday, or you joking that you “hate when your boyfriend” does this or that. I hope one day to be as funny as you are, and to rock a pair of Stan Smiths as well as you do. If you ever return to Europe, I hope you’ll take me with you. If not, I’m sure we’ll just run into each other on Rue de Lappe anyway.
Nathan: You have one of the most important jobs on this paper, and we wouldn’t have the beautiful website that we do without you. Thanks for patiently answering my dumb questions and for saving the day when we couldn’t figure out what was wrong with Mailchimp.
Melissa H. and Irene: I’m glad that before my time was up, I could finally give the opinions section the quote cards you guys deserve. You give The Hatchet a voice that other sections don’t have, and I appreciate how much thought and work you put into that each week.
Melissa S. and Emma: I apologize for sending you guys far too many late-night email drafts with far too many copy errors. Thanks for spotting my mistakes so quickly, and for not getting mad when I repeatedly forget to capitalize the “T” in “The Hatchet.”
Mark: I feel like we’ve only ever spoken to each other while we were both drunk, but regardless, I still really enjoyed hearing your thoughts on “La La Land” at Board Room that one time. I’m the furthest thing possible from a “sports fan,” but you are such a talented writer that you could make anyone care about basketball. Thanks for always making Hatchet parties so savage.
Liz: When Robin was Metro editor and I was Culture editor, we used to joke that we shared custody of the best reporters on The Hatchet. Each of us wanted you guys to pick our section over the other one, so I’m feeling pretty satisfied right now. Even though you killed it on both sections – because, let’s admit it, you’re pretty much stellar at everything you do – since day one, culture is lucky to have you. You’re funny and cool and have really nice clothes, but you’re also super-organized and ahead of the game, and those are all things a culture editor should be. Not to mention that iconic cookie cake – power moves only. I know it feels like you don’t know what you’re doing sometimes, but I promise you know way more than I ever did. Anytime you need to vent or gossip about Jonathan Cheban, I’ll be here.
Zach, Anna, Emily and Yonah: You know how you can look at a group of people and instantly imagine how funny their group chats must be? Yeah, that’s how I feel about you guys. You’re the coolest clique on staff and I’m always so amazed by how quickly you can put together a recruitment cover photo and how you consistently make this paper look amazing each week. Emily, I can tell from your dedication already that we’ll be sending some pretty fire tweets next volume. If you ever have any questions, I’ll always be online.
Dan: I might have told you that I was going to use this letter to forgive everyone on staff for their aggressions against me. In reality, I should be asking you to forgive me for never taking out the trash and being the worst group project partner ever. You have made some awful classes much more bearable for me (even if you ditched our MTC group Halloween costume) and there’s no one I’d rather rant about professors or almost die in an Uber with.
Halley, Jake, Kellie and Blair: On behalf of those of us who waste hours in the newsroom, sorry for all the times we may have distracted you with our nonsense while you were trying to edit videos. I could never even attempt to produce the content that you guys do, but your hard work and creativity always make the final product look so effortless.
Cort Carlson, reporting live: When Avery first started raving about you as a reporter, my only thought was: “What the fuck kind of a name is Cort Carlson?” Just like your name, everything else about you is absolutely one-of-a-kind, from your uncannily accurate foreign accents to your olive oil legacy. I forgive you for failing at our staring contests (or was that my fault?) and showing me that horrendous lip sync video, because you are hilarious and a gem of a person and you returned my key to the key depot that one time. I know you’ll make the most kick-ass assistant Chelsea Handler has ever had. You’re strong, you’re passionate, you’re smart, you’re tough, you’re an adult.
Elise: I will never forget how you came up to me after your very first culture meeting and told me you wanted to be an editor. I’m so glad you never lost that ambition because it has shaped you into such a fierce reporter. The last few weeks of the semester have been hectic to say the least, but you’ve handled them like a star. Live it up in London, you deserve it.
Sera: Words cannot even begin to describe how excited (and also jealous) I am for you to be in Paris next semester. I know you’ll love every single minute and I can’t wait to live vicariously through your Instagram posts. If you ever want to listen to me talk about my recommendations for five hours, let me know.
Sam: I’ll admit that I need to brace myself each time I’m in the newsroom and I hear you stomping up the stairs or tap dancing to “La La Land” on the third floor. But it’s hard to stay annoyed at your antics for long, because you’re somehow able to make even the most bitter people like me smile. Maybe it’s your knack for photoshopping images of pigeons inside of vents or the fact that you tried to cheer me up when I was having a late-night breakdown in the townhouse (sorry I didn’t listen to a word you said). I wish I could live my life as confidently as you do when you’re walking into other families’ group photos and defending the ethics of Seaworld.
Matt: When I found out that I had to get a Secret Santa gift for you, I panicked because you refused to tell anyone anything about yourself. It’s been four months, and you have still refused to tell me anything else about yourself. Oh well, I tried. I’m not exactly sure why you choose to hang out with the squad (we are not a clique!) in the townhouse until 1 or 4 a.m. sometimes, but I always have fun when you do. Your secretiveness and that time you destroyed Robin’s apartment aside, I know that you’re actually a good person. I swear I’ll think of a good idea for Staff Ed one day.
Max: This staff can be pretty cynical sometimes, but you are an absolute ray of sunshine and it is so refreshing. I can tell that you are just as passionate about food writing and the culture section today as you were from your very first story as a reporter, and that enthusiasm will take you far.
Olivia: I’m sad that we haven’t had more chances to talk because you are such a cool person – like, too cool for this staff – even if you swiped left on Lil B. You’re also an incredible photographer and I can’t wait to see where you take team photo next year. I owe you big time for not getting annoyed when I was being picky about my 30 photo.
Justine: I used to watch Robin do interviews and hold reporter meetings when she was Metro editor and wonder how anyone would ever be able to replace her. Then you came along, and I realized I had my answer. You’re one of the toughest and most driven reporters I’ve ever met. (and unlike a certain former Metro editor, you always write your Tweets). I always feel a little guilty every time I fall asleep on the townhouse couch, because it’s usually when you’re sitting in the corner diligently typing away or meeting with a reporter. But the best part is, you don’t judge me for it. You are genuinely one of the kindest people I know, and I don’t think Ladies, And, Tyler could survive without you to balance out our lunacy and bitterness.
And: How y’all doing tonight? This one goes out to you. When I said that you were a better person than Tyler, I meant it (Sorry, Tyler, xoxo). But if I’m being honest, you are a better person than most people I know. In spite of your grumpiness, you have listened to me talk on end about my demons or proclaim that I “run this paper” and – while I know you were definitely judging me – you have yet to ab-AND-on me. Sometimes I think that we could not be more different. But sometimes you do something crazy, like mispronounce “Mississippi” or start ranting about how sandwich prices make you want to smash a brick over your head, and then I know we’re actually more alike than you might care to admit. I’m sorry I forced you and Tyler to hold my hand against your will, but I will likely do it again after prom.
Tyler Jonathan Loveless: My handsome grandson. I made the mistake of writing this message to you in class, because now I’m cry-laughing about baguettes and tiny photos. You have taken so much abuse from me this year, I’m surprised you stuck around, but thank God that you did. There’s a reason you are always so high on my trustworthiness rankings. You had absolutely no obligation to rewrite my resume (even though you roasted it extensively), help me overcome those gray squares that caused me to suffer for centuries or do any of the millions of favors I’ve asked for, but you did them anyway and for that I am eternally grateful. I’m lucky that I will always have someone in Ladies, And, Tyler to laugh at my jokes, compliment my hipster clothing store taste in music and support my crazy ideas (I’m still waiting for that Staff Ed about Charles Manson), even if it means you’re enabling me to be a bad person. I promise I will never bring you an iced tea with milk in it again.
Avery: Here’s something to make you say “hmm”: Even though we’ve known each other since we were reporters, we didn’t actually become friends until last semester. I guess it just takes a visit to the world’s best Czech Christmas market to really bring people together. We share an obnoxious amount of inside jokes, but you’ve got such a unique sense of humor you can crack me up over absolute nonsense. People tag me in a lot of stupid posts on Facebook that make me want to roll my eyes, but you’re one of the few that can find a Meryl Streep meme or Jezebel article I’ll actually enjoy. You are so thoughtful about every single thing you do, say and write, right down to your Tweets (even if I have to re-write them because the puns are too much). Our conversations are always so comforting, and if I ever fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a paranormal investigator, it will be because you encouraged me.
Lillianna: I’m sitting here trying to think of a happy memory and struggling. Maybe it’s because you just took a picture of me sleeping in SEH and forgot to turn the camera sound off. Or maybe it’s because my favorite moments from our friendship involve the two of us laughing deliriously in Gelman and Drouse because we’re looking at before-and-after pictures of 50 Cent and racing on rolling chairs when we have way too much work to do. So when your love of olives and Ed Sheeran makes me question why we’re even friends, I remember it’s because you can crack me up when I’m feeling miserable. You are one of the hardest-working people I know, yet you still find the time to put other people before you, no matter how ridiculous our problems are (sorry about that post-Sign of the Whale 3 a.m. phone call). I know this will make you a great leader next year. And I know that your determination will push The Hatchet to exciting new places next year. Remember to have some fun, too. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll convince me to stay in D.C.
Robin: I’m slightly terrified that if I leave something out, you’re going to get mad at me, but here goes. I’m so glad you pulled me aside at prom before we even knew each other to give me a piece of your mind about a certain staff member. I’m also glad I fucked with that vision, and that we’ve been linking and building ever since. We’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time in the townhouse together over the last two years, but I rarely have more fun than when we’re gossiping about our enemies until late at night, even though we both have work to do. It’s gotten to the point where I can finish your stories, your nicknames for people are now a common part of my vocabulary and I can communicate with you by just giving you a look – and I can’t tell if that’s a good or a bad thing. Some of the things I do and say would make most people think I’m crazy, but I can see eye-to-eye with you on almost everything. You’re the only person I know who agrees that coffee is only drinkable when half the cup is filled with cream and appreciates the importance of a six-hour nap. Thank you for being so patient when I need to freak out about nothing, for letting me sleep in your editing bed, for asking me to babysit Mushu and for never judging me. I’m lucky to have a friend I can trust as much as you, and I hope you can say the same for me.
Mom, Dad and Caroline: I don’t know how likely it is that you’ll actually read this, but I don’t nearly thank you enough for how supportive you were when The Hatchet became more than a hobby for me. And thanks for always sending me pictures of the dog when I’m stressed. Caroline, I’ve never felt more accomplished than when you revealed to me that you actually read The Hatchet. Nice.