Zach Slotkin: And it was all yellow

Media Credit: Graeme Sloan | Contributing Photo Editor

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

It’s crazy to me that music can evoke such vivid memories.

For example, every time I hear “Rockstar” by Nickelback, I immediately remember listening to the song from my iPod Nano during a road trip to Disney World when I was 11. And without fail, Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” takes me back to my elementary school’s fateful fifth grade dance.

In fact, just as I was typing that last paragraph at my favorite coffee shop in D.C. (shoutout to Soho Tea & Coffee), Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” came on the loudspeaker. Wok and Roll flashbacks ensued.

But there’s only one song that reminds me of The Hatchet every time I hear it: “Yellow” by Coldplay.

Here’s the story. I was hired as design editor at the beginning of Volume 113, and my new gig was frustrating. I worked long hours on Sundays, and at the beginning, I made some careless mistakes: misspelled photo credits, missing bylines and occasionally a rogue “w” in the middle of articles. I started to question if this job was right for me.

On June 4, 2016, I realized it was.

I was at The Hatchet’s townhouse to work on the summer issue, and I was given an important task: to be the DJ for the day. I took a quick break from layout to log into my Spotify account, scroll to one of my thoughtfully-curated playlists and hit play.

I was designing the CI guide between sips of iced coffee and bites of pizza. Dan was uploading photos to my left, Mark was interviewing someone behind me and Ellie was editing stories downstairs. As the song on my playlist switched to “Yellow,” I noticed how hard everyone was working to produce a paper we could be proud of. And in that moment, I realized there was nowhere I’d rather be every Sunday than the third floor of 2148 F St. NW.

Three years, two volumes, a new townhouse and gallons of iced coffee later, this song still defines my time at The Hatchet in more ways than one. As design editor, I learned the importance of picking the best colors for each layout, right down to the hex code. Shades of yellow can bring positivity and joy to a page, just like how The Hatchet has brought me positivity and joy ever since I joined the staff. While my attempts to include yellow in my page designs were almost always vetoed by those above me, I did my best to advocate for the underrated color – and there was no better feeling than seeing someone pick up a paper I spent an entire Sunday designing.

Like any university, GW has its fair share of problems. In Volume 115 alone, The Hatchet’s talented reporters investigated overpriced housing, residence hall security and a racist history. On a campus full of dark grays, The Hatchet adds a burst of bright hues onto issues that matter.

When I think back at my four years at GW, I don’t think about the dark grays. I think about the amazing experiences I had as a Hatchet editor, from teaching new members InDesign to having the most ridiculous conversations with the rest of the basement crew. I’m a better person because I joined The Hatchet – I’m more organized, I’m more confident, I have better Spotify playlists and most importantly, I have more amazing memories.

Even today, whenever I hear “Yellow” on the radio or elsewhere, I think of June 4, 2016. Just like the hex code for Hatchet Blue and the lyrics to “Crank That,” I’m positive that memory will forever be etched into my mind. And I’ll forever be thankful that The Hatchet brought some yellow to my life.

Graeme Sloan | Contributing Photo Editor

Anna, Emily & Yonah: I couldn’t decide which one of you to start with, so I decided to lump you all together. Besides, my 30 would be incomplete without mentioning our close-knit group from two years ago. I looked to all of you for guidance since you all had more Hatchet experience than I did when I became design editor. Despite our embarrassingly poor brunch-planning skills (RIP DGS), I’m really glad we became good friends and co-editors because I definitely wouldn’t have lasted as design editor longer than a few months without you all by my side. Thanks for always making our Groupme chat lively.

Anna: Your creativity, wit and sense of humor helped bring life to many long Sunday afternoons. When I came back from my semester abroad, it felt really weird laying out pages without you. I’m glad I was always able to confide in you when I was frustrated about my job, since you had the same experiences. But despite the frustrations, you always produced stellar work, like those baseball (basketball?) cards you worked on for an eternity. After you left staff, I used your front pages as inspiration pretty often. Your unilateral decision to change Hatchet Blue was bold but worth it – #033b59 is one of the best things that have happened to The Hatchet in a long time.

Emily Lillian: I’m glad there was another South Floridian on the design team, let alone on staff to begin with. Though we never saw each other outside of the District, you were the only one who could relate to my confusions about the lack of Pollo Tropical in D.C. and my tendency to get cold when everyone else was rolling up their sleeves. Our plans to go to Wynwood together may never come to fruition, but I’m glad we still keep in touch, and I hope we continue to even after we both move thousands of miles away in opposite directions. Your upcoming job at Amazon is impressive but not at all surprising given your intelligence and work ethic. Stay true to your brand, avoid capital letters at all costs and keep up the white space.

Yonah: You transformed The Hatchet’s graphics department with your strong work ethic, high standards and close attention to detail. Because of your leadership and the precedent you set, we’ve been able to retain some stellar graphic-makers. Visualized may have died long ago, but your legacy at The Hatchet lives on.

Justine: We met in a really unfortunate way, but I’m glad that night had at least one good outcome: the start of our long-lasting friendship. I’ve known you longer than anyone else listed here, so it’s fitting that I still have the pleasure of calling you a friend. Soon, you’ll be trading cherry blossoms for cacti, and I’m excited to hear about all of your future inevitable accomplishments in the journalism world. You’re genuinely one of the kindest and most caring people I know, and I can’t wait for the next time we catch up and discuss Bojack Horseman and Black Mirror – maybe over some all-you-can-eat sushi?

Ellie: I still remember the moment I received a phone call toward the end of my freshman year from an unknown Columbus, Ohio number and promptly ignored it. Good thing I checked my voicemail, though, because I can’t imagine what the last three years would have been like if you hadn’t invited me to become design editor. You had an uncanny ability to make me feel extremely welcome on a staff of people I didn’t know who all seemed like they were friends with each other, which I appreciated as a shy incoming sophomore. Whenever I’m in the Big Apple, I’ll be sure to let you know so we could get some Chipotle.

Lillianna: We hadn’t spoken more than a few words to each other before we were suddenly on a flight together to Tel Aviv. I’m glad we got to know each other on that trip and through the countless all-nighters we pulled writing papers in Gelman the following semester. I’ll always remember that time you saw a rat in the six floor stacks at four in the morning. Thank you for providing many laughs past midnight in the townhouse basement, for being an amazing EIC, for allowing me to return to staff after my semester abroad and for explaining the penny press to me that one time. I got an A because of you.

Olivia D.: When you told me around October you wanted to be design editor this past semester, I breathed the biggest ever sigh of relief because I knew there was no one better for the job. Your ambition and dedication made you qualified for the role, but your creativity is what makes you excel at it. Despite your impressive portfolio from throughout the semester, you’re still always looking to improve, which reflects a self-awareness that a lot of people lack. I might be 4,000 miles away from the District next volume, but only shoddy internet service can prevent me from looking at the print PDFs every Monday to see the incredible work you’ll produce.

Emily R.: This past year, you strengthened the graphics department in unimaginable ways. You truly have an eye for graphic design. Your uncanny ability to match hex codes to colors is borderline scary, but it’s come in handy plenty of times after hours of heated debate over the specific shades of blue to use. I always had a fun time brainstorming teaser ideas with you. Your Corcoran background made you a really valuable member of the design team. The graphics editor position can be stressful, but your leadership qualities made you perfect for the role. Keep up the important food discourse.

Annie: For the past year, you’ve been one of my closest friends not just at The Hatchet but at GW in general. You’re always to give me advice on anything and everything, Hatchet-related or not. Your friendship came at the perfect time, too. After I came back to staff halfway through Volume 114, I felt far removed from a lot of the social circles that had formed in my absence, and all of my closest Hatchet friends had left staff while I was gone. Thanks to you, 609 21st St. NW quickly felt like a second home to me. We have a long list of restaurants and bars to go to, but time is dwindling, so we need to hurry up!

Elise: I’m so glad we were able to get to know each other better this past year. I still remember sitting in Kogan Plaza with you over the summer and planning a hypothetical spring break trip to Japan that I lowkey wanted to happen. Alas, I’ll have to wait a little longer to see Tokyo. But that conversation confirmed what I already suspected: you’re such a cool person that it would have been a shame if we didn’t become better friends. Thankfully, we did. You have a lot of admirable qualities – you’re hilarious, you have some great and unexpected stories on reserve, you’re a fantastic listener and you have such an open and welcoming presence that makes you the perfect managing director. Seeing Hozier with you and Kate was definitely a senior year highlight for me. Also, The Amazing Race is currently accepting applications. Just saying.

Lindsay: Sometimes, when I can’t decide where to get dinner from, I think, “Where Would Lindsay Go?” (WWLG). I use your Instagram as a guide to eating in the city, and it’s come in handy plenty of times. But you’re an influencer in other ways, too – your personality and laugh are infectious. You bring life to every room you enter, and everyone I know feels the same way about you. Ever since we first hung out at Jazz in the Garden last summer, I knew you were someone I would want to be friends with for a long time. If we’re ever handcuffed together for 24 hours, you’re in charge of making dinner reservations.

Margot: Even though you left staff in December, you have a ubiquitous presence on the design computers, since you never logged out of your Spotify account. But aside from your masterful playlists (I’ve been taking notes), your absence has been sorely felt the past few months. I’m glad your departure from The Hatchet didn’t lead to the departure of our friendship, if anything because you’re the only person in the world who agrees that “Why Did You Do That?” is leaps and bounds better than “Shallow.” Let’s go back to U Street one last time before we graduate.

Katie: Truth or dare? Truth. I always admired a lot about you – you’re hilarious, you’re a great storyteller, you’re an even better writer and the fact that you do stand-up comedy is so impressive. With the longest name and the second longest position on staff, it was always a struggle fitting your byline onto the culture page every week, but it was always worth the extra effort because the paper benefited from your skilled reporting. Your and Olivia’s dating app review is one of my all-time favorite Hatchet features.

Renee: Every Sunday morning, almost on cue, I check the “Current Issue” folder on Google Drive just so I can read the upcoming staff editorial. I was always so impressed how skillfully you’re able to condense seven people’s differing opinions on wide-ranging topics into a single piece. Ed board has been a blast with you as its fearless leader, and I’ll deeply miss our Monday evening meetings. Also, if there was an award for best Hatchet Twitter account, you would win hands-down.

Kiran: I have long thought of you as the voice of reason on ed board because you always have the most practical opinions that bring us back to reality. You provide a valuable perspective to our discussions, which I’m positive will serve you well as you transition to your new role. You’re also underratedly fun at parties.

Sam: We first met when I was design editor and you were a budding designer. Then, we had a really awkward interaction in Point Chaud, and I thought our relationship was ruined forever. But I was delighted to learn you were hired as contributing social media director because I had a chance to redeem myself, and then you became my superior in the social media section. Oh, how the tables have turned. At first I was sad you abandoned InDesign for Hootsuite, but you’ve done a great job managing The Hatchet’s Twitter and Instagram accounts. Thanks for not @ing me every time my Tweets were late.

Graeme Sloan | Contributing Photo Editor

Kelly: You were the first person to read the roughest draft of my 30 a couple of weeks ago, so thank you for your valuable feedback. You’re always a calm presence during prodo, especially when late night is approaching and the rest of the basement gets sleepy/frustrated/hopeless/all of the above. Thanks for always being there to catch my 2 a.m. spelling mistakes on the front page.

Olivia A.: You have a lot going for you: you’re arguably the most stylish person on staff, you have a great taste in music and you’re one hell of a photographer. I always loved watching you lead photo meetings every Sunday night because you can command a room like no other. You are so committed to The Hatchet, and I really admire your work ethic.

Graeme & Olivia A.: Thanks for your amazing work with my 30 photos. You’re both MVPs.

Barbara: 安雅荣, you are definitely one of the most fun people to talk to at The Hatchet. You’re kind and funny, and on top of that, you did an incredible job leading the sports section through some crazy times. I can’t wait to find out what you’ll be up to next – I know big things will be in store. Not even daily tingxies can stop you.

Leah: You have big shoes to fill as The Hatchet’s next managing director, but I know that you’re …Ready For It. You have exactly the right personality for it: you’re welcoming to the newbies, you don’t have any Bad Blood (as far as I know), and I know you’ll handle Delicate situations with ease. You have a Big Reputation as an expert news editor, but switching to MD is the perfect End Game for you. Call It What You Want, but your passion for #sustainability will never go out of Style. Writing this paragraph with Taylor Swift lyrics was more challenging than I thought, so Don’t Blame Me if it’s not comprehensible. It made perfect sense in my Wildest Dreams.

Meredith: When I think about The Hatchet, you’re one of the first people who come to my mind because you exemplify everything that’s great about this institution. You’re a hotseat highlight – you always provide both the best questions and the best answers. A steep staircase and two really loud doors prevent us from interacting too often during prodos, but whenever you come downstairs on Sundays, you always bring along with you some much-needed comedic relief. I appreciate your hard-fought attempts to save the Wok and Roll event, but unfortunately it was doomed from the start. You also have a great podcast voice, and I hope one day you will start a true crime podcast.

Cayla: When I think about our friendship, a lot comes to mind all at once. I think about us reminiscing about the good ol’ days when MCR was active and when Hot Topic band tees were socially acceptable to wear. I think about you creating that beautiful Yuta cutout for the Volume 113 basketball guide. And I think about me pleading with you to apply to be contributing design editor against your own wishes. Can you imagine how different things would be if you were hired for design instead of news? Anyway, the news team has been stellar this past year, and I’ve been so impressed by the investigative projects news editors have taken on under your leadership. Leave it to you to serve as senior news editor, while also waiting tables, while also being in a sorority, while also graduating a year early, while ALSO doing an amazing job and not losing your mind. Treat yourself to a full day of sleep and a good bottle of wine (once you turn 21, of course) after transition is over.

Matt: Every time you’ve taken on a new job at The Hatchet, you’ve put in 110 percent, even when it meant running to all the blue lights in Foggy Bottom ahead of our editorial board discussion on campus security. I always looked forward to your weekly Times New Roman ed board responses because they were always full of important context and research. You might be a man of few words, but in ed board, you always had something of substance to say.

Liz: I have a lot to thank you for, but mostly for allowing me to stay on staff after I decided to step down from being design editor. If you hadn’t offered me the role of contributing social media director this past semester, I wouldn’t be writing this 30, so that means a lot to me. You were a great EIC, and I hope you recognize that. You handled crises with impressive poise, you were always there to steer ed board back on track whenever someone (usually me) went on a tangent and you had a meticulous attention to detail that always made our page layouts stronger. On top of that and much more, you fostered a sense of community among staff I felt had been lacking. That’s an impressive feat with such a large group, and I know your ambitious and hardworking personality will make you a force to reckon with in the post-grad world.

Sarah: When I came back to staff halfway through Volume 114, I felt out-of-place. At the first staff meeting of the semester, I looked around the townhouse basement, and there were so many unfamiliar faces, yours included. I knew your name from that wild UPD story you wrote, but I knew nothing else about you. The first time we ever actually talked, you asked Lillianna and I if we wanted anything from Starbucks, and it took me forever to decide between a coffee Frappuccino and a caramel latte. Thankfully, my long-lasting indecisiveness didn’t completely weird you out. Thanks for promposing to me last year (what ever happened to those plastic cockroaches?), for always being down for a coffee run and for being a good friend. I can’t wait to watch The Hatchet continue to grow under your leadership. I know you’ll do an incredible job. You already have.

Tina: The design team has always struggled retaining a large group of people, but thankfully you’ve stuck with us through all these years. Thanks for always being willing to lend a helping hand when we needed it most. Hatchet Holiday 2k16 with you, Siri, Anna, Emily and Yonah was a blast. I won’t pretend to understand all the science-y research stuff you do, but best of luck with… that!

Alyssa & Olivia C.: As the future of Hatchet design, I have full confidence that you’ll help make the paper beautiful each week. Throughout Volume 115, you’ve both produced some amazing and creative work, and I’m excited to see what you do in the future. Make sure you understand the value of what you’re doing and the importance of the Hatchet – it will help make long prodos go by with ease. Among the seas of black and white and Hatchet Blue, don’t forget to add some yellow! The newsprint could use it.


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