Letter from the editor: Thank you, goodbye and keep fighting the good fight

Erin Douglas

Dear readers and every Collegian staff member past and present:

Today I am no longer the editor-in-chief of your student newspaper. In reflection, allow me to recall three flashbulb memories I have during my four years reporting on and attending Colorado State University:

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The first was sitting at a wooden table at Mugs Coffee Lounge at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday in February 2016. It’s where I wrote the first sentence of a story that accused the student government of allowing sexual harassment to go unchecked in the office. The second was walking through Parmelee dining hall on a Monday in August 2016. It’s where I read the email that confirmed my reporting was accurate by the Office of Equal Opportunity’s investigation results. The third was sitting on a couch in the corner of the newsroom at 9 p.m. on a Wednesday in February 2017. It’s where I edited a story that exposed accusations of abuse and non-response in a Title IX case against a star basketball player.

There are too many people and moments to credit for making me into the journalist I am today. But truly, the most impactful moments were the ones in which I was there – in the space where a story could change an institution.

Everything I learned the past four years: the meetings with sources, the voice recordings stored on my phone, the hours I spent editing with my editors and the hours I spent editing with my reporters – none were more influential than each time my editor/adviser/coworker/reporter stood in unwavering support for me while I stood in opposition to power.

To do this is The Collegian‘s greatest challenge and greatest strength. Journalists are differentiated from other storytellers by our willingness to oppose and expose; our dedication to truth and fairness; our loyalty to our fellow students rather than a group or institution.

If I could choose only one lesson learned and only one message to leave, it would be the same: Push every day to give a voice to the voiceless. Do it – a sacred task – with love, with care and with humility.

This newspaper gave me so much, and I don’t know if I’ve given it enough back. It was the challenge of my time here to serve my community as much as my community served me. I can never repay it – I will spend the rest of my life indebted to what The Collegian taught me about journalism, leadership and friendship. I will spend the rest of my life indebted to the people who made me who I am and who I will become.

I wrote 165 stories for The Collegian. I don’t know how many times I laughed, cried and said, “I love you,” but I know it wasn’t enough. I regret not taking more videos of us laughing, not saving more cut-out nopes/dopes for my bulletin board, and not screen-shotting more groupme conversations. I wish I had spent more time living like every moment with the people I love was imperative to remember. Because it was.

So, my plea for this upcoming group of editors, campus leaders and readers is this: Live life as if you’re about to go to press. Live it urgently and bravely. Have passion and purpose. Deeply consider the impact every word has. Live it like everyone you know is looking to you for leadership – because if you live like this, then they will.

17-18 Editor-in-Chief Erin Douglas (left) and 17-18 Managing Editor Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick (right) in May 2018. (Tony Villalobos May | Collegian)
17-18 Editor-in-Chief Erin Douglas (left) and 17-18 Managing Editor Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick (right) in May 2018. (Tony Villalobos May | Collegian)

Too often, journalists are overlooked while identifying community servants. In four years, the people I met who were the most dedicated to, the most loving of and the most enthralled by this campus community were the people I found in the newsroom. To dedicate some space to a few of the hundreds of people who impacted me in the past four years, I’d like to say thank you…

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  • To Tatiana, who I anticipated being friends with but who I never knew would become my soulmate. Thank you for literally changing your life plan to be with me, for always loving me with your whole heart, and for matching my dedication and then raising me one. Know that I am deeply and forever in love with you. When the whole world seemed to come down, I knew your laugh would lift us up. You were my light, and I’m so jealous of whoever gets to see it shine next year.
  • To Jim, whose few kind words my sophomore year allowed me to become the editor I needed to be. From the moment you stepped into the newsroom, you had my back. I simply sought your guidance and found enthusiastic, unwavering and dedicated support. You have impacted me as a journalist and leader more than you will ever know.
  • To Seth, who I never anticipated being friends with, but who I wouldn’t have survived this year without. Your impact on the newsroom and on me can never be repaid. Your sweet smile and kind words were so often the reason I was able to continue with strength. At the time, it felt like we were spending too many 3 a.m. nights at Ally Cat, but now it doesn’t feel like enough.
  • To Chapman, who allowed me to be my truest self. You never asked me to compromise my feelings. You let me be crazy, aggressive, ridiculous and sassy, and you simply dealt it back to me. I love you forever.
  • To my news babies, who dealt with a crazy election season and a crazier editor (me). I am so proud of each and every one of you. I was not easy on you. That you continued to strive for greatness is a testament to how far you will take this newspaper. Trust it.
  • To all my sprots bois (past and present), who showed me unwavering loyalty, the feeling is mutual. I am your biggest fan. I will never understand why you came to me for advice on sports reporting, but I’m honored. Go team.
  • To the web wizards, who are objectively magical. It’s unbelievable how talented, strong and patient the three of you are. Be proud of yourselves.
  • To the rest of the editorial staff, I love you.
  • To the rest of the newsroom, I am so proud of you.
  • To every Collegian editor before me, thank you. I am humbled by your support this year. I’ll do my best to give ‘em hell in New York.

Former Collegian Editor-in-Chief Erin Douglas can be reached at erinmdouglas23@gmail.com or on Twitter @erinmdouglas23. After graduation, she will complete a summer reporting internship at Bloomberg in New York City. After that, she’ll let you know.