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.
“Boy Meets World” was one of my favorite shows growing up.
I stumbled upon it one morning when I was eating breakfast, and I quickly became invested in the show. I felt a connection to the protagonist, Cory Matthews, and I was eager to find out what he and his friends would do next and what big life lesson they would learn. Throughout the series, Cory referred to his decisions and the twists of fate in his life as part of “the universe,” through which he learned to follow his passions and made connections with others. And he was always looking to find his place in the world.
I tried out journalism for the first time as an elective as a high school sophomore and quickly picked up a column analyzing the political news of the day. While working on a name, “Boy Meets Gov” jumped out at me as an offshoot of the show I was so fond of. I created my own space on the paper – a place where I found my niche.
Coming to GW, it made sense to major in journalism, but I wasn’t sold on it upon walking into The Hatchet’s townhouse for the first time one Monday night. What sold me was the excitement and the fun, along with the admiration I developed for this organization and journalism as a whole. And, of course, the people I met along the way.
When I first joined the paper, I looked up to the news editors at the time – whom I referred to as “the five” – so much that I wanted to be just like them. I knew that was my place in the Hatchet universe. When I eventually became an editor, I was most excited to have the chance to oversee coverage of amazing stories and serve as a mentor for the next generation, like my predecessors before me.
The Hatchet can sometimes feel like its own universe, with its own shared struggles, inside jokes and passions for improving the lives of the GW community. And I’ve looked to find my niche to fill a role in that universe and better the organization. This organization has existed and passed down its customs for many generations before me, and I hope it will remain for many generations after.
Of course, not all parts of the process are the most exhilarating. What helped an immeasurable amount were the people right there with me, doing the same job I was. Reflecting back on all the nights working on drafts together, all the hours sitting in Faculty Senate meetings, all the Sundays and Wednesdays putting the final touches on stories, the other members of staff are who helped me make memories I’ll fondly look back on.
Helping lead the paper during the pandemic was something I couldn’t have anticipated. A more normal experience being senior news editor would have been preferable. However, the pandemic led me to one of my most difficult and important decisions: to take a year off school to return in person this past fall. During one of the most emotionally and mentally difficult times for everyone, The Hatchet was one thing that helped me manage the pandemic and know what day it was.
I didn’t know what The Hatchet would look like coming out of the pandemic. We had basically undergone a yearlong pause on normal operations, stopping most nonreporting parts of the normal Hatchet experience that make this fun. Realizing this led me to find my new niche in the Hatchet universe that I pledged myself to this past year: restoring all of the customs that make The Hatchet a family.
It’s ironic to me that I took on the role of the institutionalist/Hatchet historian actively working to bring back as many traditions as I could remember because most of my time on The Hatchet was based around helping reform this organization for the better. The history of this paper matters – it’s something that sets us apart, something that makes The Hatchet like a family run newspaper with all its storied legacy. But nothing should stay the same forever. Traditions are meant to evolve, andt they should evolve through active decision making. Bringing back these traditions will give future generations of The Hatchet the opportunity to decide what to continue and what to let go. My advice to future volumes: find your own meaning in these long-held traditions, but keep making new ones.
Five years is a long time for anything, but the time I’ve spent on The Hatchet passed in the blink of an eye. I feel lucky and honored to have been able to not just help guide the paper through a major crisis but rebuild after it. And I can’t imagine my GW years having gone any other way.
I owe everything to the people who have supported me along the way. I can’t begin to say “thank you” for all the good times, laughs, motivation, guidance and companionship. But here’s a start.
Leah: It feels fitting that my Hatchet mom and the first person I ever met on the paper is the first person I address here. I definitely did not plan for the way I would join The Hatchet a few weeks after the others in my freshman class, but I can say fairly confidently that fate worked out for the best here. From the moment you introduced yourself to me on that Monday evening in September, you were the friendliest and most supportive editor I could have asked for. I remember how you consoled and encouraged me to move forward as I cryingly told you an expert yelled at me for asking what he considered a dumb question while I was reporting my first story. I had no idea what to expect upon joining The Hatchet, but your kindness and devotion to the health and sciences beat and your reporters are what pulled me in so quickly. Beyond that, you went from editor to mentor to friend along the way, and I’m so grateful for that and that you were so crucial to some of my earliest memories on The Hatchet.
Olivia Dupree: While it’s so easy for different sections of the paper to just hang in their own corners only interacting with other sections when necessary, you specifically sought to break that mold, which is what led you to chat with a relatively quiet new news editor at a small Hatchet social event. From that conversation on, I knew I had my first real outside-the-newsroom Hatchet friend. Our talks ranged from intense food discourse deliberations to stress to levels of friendship, and I always knew that I could be honest in my takes and expect the same from you. P.S. I forgive you for abandoning me on the scavenger hunt.
Sarah: It was clear to me early on how crucial you were going to be to the future of The Hatchet. I remember meeting you in the Marvin Center freshman year for the first time to plan for our only co-byline together. I had just begun to think through the story while you already had a fully fleshed out reporting plan with sources and a schedule to stay on track with the story for the week. I’m sorry we didn’t have an opportunity to work on another assignment together because of the parallel trajectories our Hatchet careers took, but I’m so happy we were able to work together to guide the paper through the virtual year. I couldn’t have asked for a better EIC to work under as SNE, as I knew I could turn to you for help with difficult stories, sources and circumstances (and there were many). Our check-in calls may have sometimes gotten off topic, but I was always happy to lend an ear for whatever you needed and still am.
Dani: I thought of you as the mysterious one for much of the first half of my time with The Hatchet because you were the only editor I hadn’t really spoken to, and I had stories in all beats except metro (I promise it wasn’t intentional!). That continued somewhat with academics not being in your designed beats for the Vol. 116 news team. But your training was so crucial to my success as SNE. The Navy SNEal training was what I need to prepare me for what is a difficult job as you know. I admittedly had doubts about my ability to take full SNE coming into Vol. 117, but your support is what convinced me I could do it.
Parth: I always felt that we had an interesting dynamic during our time on the paper. My first memory of you was you last-minute calling me at the end of freshman year to peer pressure me into taking event blogs, and you knew I was likely to say yes. I wasn’t fully sure what to expect when you were about to become my SNE, knowing your sarcastic side but openly not being scared of you, as I often reminded you. I soon saw the advantages of you as my boss, knowing that your top priority was to provide the support Zach, Ilena and I needed, along with the rest of news, to be as successful as possible. You were a big reason why I succeeded in the multiple positions I’ve held for the Hatchet, and I owe you one for that. P.S. Offering the spare room in your Dupont apartment for that summer was pretty helpful and fun too. I guess I owe you two.
Lizzie: Where do I even begin? I was happy when we quickly became friends after I attended one of my first GW Hillel events and realized you were in The Hatchet too, but I had no idea what an important friendship it’d be to me. Your friendship has played such a major role in my life that it’d be impossible for me to tell the story of my college experience without you in it. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who cares so deeply about the things you care about, and I’ve always admired that. You wore so many different hats during your time on The Hatchet and excelled at all of them. I knew by freshman year how important you were going to be to The Hatchet, and by senior year you were one of the most respected leaders on the paper. Our SNE-copy debates, even when I was wrong (which, admittedly, happened often), definitely helped prepare me to stand in for copy this semester. There’s no one else I’m so convinced can do anything they put their mind to. You’ve been one of the most supportive, thoughtful, caring friends I’ve ever had, and I’m so grateful for that.
Lia: I remember being so happy and excited when I heard you planned to run for EIC because I knew you were going to be as successful as you have been in everything else you’ve done for The Hatchet. I couldn’t imagine a better person to lead the paper back to in-person operations than you. You’ve handled every challenge thrown at you and the paper this year with perspective and a clear vision. I wish I could’ve gotten to know you better earlier in my time on The Hatchet, but I really enjoy the friendship we’ve developed and the occasional snipes we throw at each other. There are so many opportunities available to you for the future, and I can’t wait to see which one you take.
Zach Schonfeld: My Hatchet partner-in-crime – we’ve had such similar paths on this paper that I can’t remember a time when we weren’t working on something together. I’ve always felt we worked so well together because our respective strengths and focuses complemented each other perfectly. Your outside-the-box thinking with pitching story ideas and ways of telling stories are things I’ve aspired to and have long admired in you. It was always a comfort as SNE knowing that if a story could be done it would be, regardless of your role as top boy scout. I know you’ll be successful in everything you do just based on who you are as a journalist, colleague and leader.
Ilena: I honestly think if there had to be an MVP of our year on the news team, it would’ve been you. You were one of the best reporters and editors I’ve seen on The Hatchet, and if any story ever needed to get done by the end of the day, it could be given to you. There were so many times you fully reported and wrote academics stories that I had barely made progress on entirely on a Friday, and I’ve always been grateful for that. On a more personal level, I really enjoyed all the time spent in the townhouse or JBKO finishing stories together, bonding and occasionally letting off some steam. You’ve been such a great friend – star babies onward.
Tiffany: From the moment you had to step away from staff, I said if anyone would come back it would be you, and I’m so happy I was right. You are one of the most enthusiastic members of The Hatchet and are so passionate about every story. I’ve really enjoyed watching you grow and become the reporter you are today. I know you’ll go far in anything you decide to pursue.
Alec: You were such a reliable reporter when I was academics editor that I pretty much knew I could rely on you for anything. I really enjoyed reporting alongside you while getting to know you, even including our one time getting kicked out of an office – an experience for us both. You took the podcast in its relative infancy and turned it into a major part of the paper and tackled so many fascinating topics. I can’t wait to see all you do in your career, even if you’re a New Yorker.
Ed: It feels so long ago that we met in Leah’s weekly reporter meetings when we were often the only two to show up. Working in facts and copy may be underappreciated parts of staff, but your work helped keep the paper running smoothly and up to the standards we strive for. Despite the difficulty, you stayed flexible and were always looking for ways to contribute, which I always appreciated.
Jarrod: I remember first being told about this reporter with a similar name to mine junior year after the latest SA lawsuit. I heard you were impressive, but I was hesitant to get too excited over a reporter in their first byline. I’m so glad time proved that I shouldn’t have been. It’s been a pleasure watching you rise to every occasion you have faced on The Hatchet. Despite barely seeing each other in person before this past August, we’ve come a long way since I apparently let you borrow my charger when we first met. I was proud watching you and working with you as my SNE successor, and I’m excited to see all you will do as EIC. You got this.
Isha: My Hatchet child! From early on in the year after you joined academics, I was bragging to the rest of the news team about my reporter Isha and how great she was. After seeing how amazing of a reporter you are, I’ve loved getting to know you as a person outside of our work and becoming friends outside The Hatchet family tree. Covering the Faculty Senate and their occasional drama (maybe more than occasional) with you was one of my favorite parts of the virtual year, and it was nice bonding with someone who cares about senate operations as much as I do. It was great getting to train you twice, and I know you’ll be a great ME. I’m glad you’ll remain a presence on The Hatchet next year, as your deep institutional knowledge of our coverage and the paper will move us forward.
Lauren: One of the largest, random effects of The Hatchet is gaining a bunch of niche knowledge about a very specific subject, and your student government coverage has turned you into a pro. You have almost single-handedly built so many relationships with SA leaders and consistently produced spot-on stories week after week. I know you’ll be a great steady resource as MD and care so much about people’s well-being. I feel comfortable knowing you’ll be part of an exciting management team next year.
Zach Blackburn: I had no idea what to expect upon meeting you for the first time after reading your Twitter for almost a year prior. I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised. As much as your posts sometimes give me stress (though not too much recently!), I’ve watched you grow and mature as an editor to now being ready to help lead the news team. You’re a lot of fun to be around and care deeply about the paper. Keep jumping around the townhouse as SNE – your enthusiasm rubs off on everyone around you.
Nick: I knew your name from seeing your byline while I was SNE, but it was amazing watching you blossom into the reporter you’ve become while you were a fact checker. You continued the dominant legacy of academics editors well, and I’m excited to see you take up SNE next year because I know you are ready to help lead this paper. I’ve enjoyed our occasional banter and your branding of me as the institutionalist. Maybe take the baton after me?
Abby: Covering student life isn’t easy, and it’s been great watching you come into the role and grow as a reporter. It’s been nice having a fellow Philly sports fan on staff, and I’m very happy you’ve decided to stay on staff next year. I’ll keep an eye on my inbox.
Ishani: As SNE, I always liked when I saw your byline at the top of a draft I received because I knew it’d be an easy story to edit. You were one of the best reporters I edited while I led news, and it’s been nice getting to know you this year too. I can’t wait to see all you accomplish.
Dan: You’re one of the most energetic people currently on staff. I still can’t believe you cleaned the entire business office just because you felt like it one day, which was actually a huge help. Admin is a difficult beat, but I know you’re capable of taking it and excelling.
Michelle: I don’t think I’ve meant anyone juggling as many things as you do, and you do amazing at all of them. Your drafts were also one of the easiest edits I needed to do because I needed to do so few of them, and I was so happy when you became health and research editor. I know you’ll be successful at all you do, but remember to sleep here and there.
Grace Hromin: I didn’t know what to expect needing to be in constant coordination with photo while I was SNE, but I couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with. You constantly were ready to adjust, even when stories changed last minute, and handled everything like a pro, like with some last minute photo essay ideas courtesy of Zach. I enjoyed getting to actually know you in person after having known you by text for a year, and you helped prodo run smoothly and make it so much more fun. I’m here anytime to fix your passive voice or for anything else you need.
Grace Miller: My fellow INFJ! You’ve grown into an exceptional design editor, always ready with a new idea to make our fronts and guides more visually appealing while still focusing on the small details. I know how much tracking can be a drag, but you always made sure everything looked right regardless. You were such a fun and central part of basement gang, helping us keep things together and enjoy ourselves as we went into the night. I’ll think of you and your alter ego David the next time I see “Harry Potter.”
Jaden: Despite the many, many arguments we may have had over the smallest copy rules, I’ve so much respect for you and the work you do every day. I learned firsthand just how difficult copy can be, and you not only did it for a year but signed up for a second. You’re so effective at leading this underappreciated but crucial section, and I know you’ll keep caring about all the small things that keep The Hatchet up to standard. I really enjoyed working with you, even as I worked to undermine your curly apostrophes and quotation marks.
Hannah and Andrew: Constantly putting your opinions in text to possibly be praised or skewered by others online is something that requires so much bravery. You both were always ready to churn out a new piece, sometimes at the last minute when necessary, and stood by the words you wrote. I know this will take you both far.
Sejal: I was so excited when a prospective reporter first called me asking for my advice and experience on The Hatchet, and I was so happy when that reporter joined. It’s been great seeing you report so many important stories and feel so passionate about giving a voice to others on campus. Keep up that drive as you continue your Hatchet career.
Professors Griesshammer, Wagner, Cohen-Cole, Orti and Dugan, former Provosts Maltzman and Blake and Chief Tate: I haven’t spoken to most of you in a little bit since I stopped doing reporting for the most part for The Hatchet, and that is one of the parts I miss the most from those days. Other Hatchet reporters and I have sent you all many requests for comment over the years, and you’ve all shown a commitment to help inform the community that is admirable. You made my job much easier, and I enjoyed hearing from all of you. As always, thanks for taking the time to talk with me.
Crystal: The relationship between the press and media relations is generally known for being adversarial, but your efforts to support us were so important to us accomplishing our mission. You advocated for us when we needed someone with our interests and the wider GW community’s in mind and made my job and so many other people’s jobs much easier. You made our reporting better, and I couldn’t have done my job as SNE without you. I will always appreciate that.
Zachary, Blake, Emily, Jonathan, Lila, Siena and Sinykin: The life of friends of a Hatchet member is simultaneously a unique experience and one that puts you in a club with many others. I definitely needed to say “sorry, I can’t, I have Hatchet” more often than I would’ve liked or you wanted to hear. Despite that, I can’t begin to say how much I appreciated the support I had from all of you both related to The Hatchet and life in general, along with the occasional rants you listened to. Thank you for being some of the best friends I’ve had. You might remember that I had some less than ideal roommate issues during the fall of freshman year that largely made me feel isolated before I met you in the spring. I would go through that all again in a heartbeat if it would lead me to you guys.
My family: You knew early on how important The Hatchet became to me and the role it would play in my life, and you were always supportive of my goals on the paper. Even when things got hard, you pushed me forward knowing I would be better off for it professionally and personally. This probably resulted in many fewer calls and texts from me than you would’ve liked, but it was good to know my family was always there to support me when I needed them. (I promise to try to improve on that a bit in my Hatchet retirement.) You all inspired me to follow my passions, so I have you to thank for where I am today. Felicia, there’s probably no one more responsible for my path in journalism than you. You’re the reason I’m the journalist I am today. I can’t thank you enough for all the times you’ve been there for me, and you know I’m always ready to do the same.
This article appeared in the April 25, 2022 issue of the Hatchet.