Stanfield: What working for The Collegian taught me

Arisson Stanfield

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. Reflections are for graduating student columnist to reflect back on their time at The Collegian.

The Rocky Mountain Collegian has shown me that there is still hope for news media. Many publications have succumbed to the temptation to bolster their viewership with sensational and digestible think pieces. In stark contrast, the work produced by The Collegian is emblematic of the journalistic ethics it was founded upon. 

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The Collegian has set itself apart as the most highly ranked public university newspaper for one reason: Here, journalism is not a tool to advance one’s agenda. It is a duty, a responsibility to bring light to a dark world. 

But, the gift of light has never been one freely given. There is always a cost to pushing the hazy boundaries of our present understanding and engendering thoughts not oft considered. 

Working for The Collegian taught me the same lesson learned by the titan Prometheus when he was punished for gifting fire to man: Being well intended does not guarantee that one will be well received. 

Rather than using my position to proliferate my own ideas and biases I tried to challenge others to rethink their own. 

As a result, I have never felt more isolated from those I call peers, mentors and community members. In my experience considering anything but the popular narrative is quickly becoming an act of heresy punishable by ostracism and condemnation in the court of public opinion. 

The Book of Mark phrased it most poignantly: “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and in his own home.” The lesson was well learned.

I will not stop trying to continue walking the same path of Socrates: the path of the skeptic, the gadfly, the accuser who seeks to bring the best out of his compatriots. That being said, it would be irresponsible not to offer a warning to those who think they would like to do the same. 

Let it be known that to some playing devil’s advocate is tantamount to worshiping the lord of flies himself. If you would like to challenge people to think deeply about what they most care about you will pay the price. 

“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate,” abandon hope all ye who enter here. This phrase should echo in the mind of anyone who sets down the path of the provocateur and remind them that courage is not the absence of fear, but its confrontation. Even if the task is perilous and the burden heavy, the mission is noble and the benefit to humanity is immeasurable.  

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate – dANTE’S dIVINE cOMEDY 

Finally, I give my utmost praise and admiration to Jayla Hodge, the current editor of the opinion desk. Working under her has taught me that struggle need not produce stagnation and that there is something truly remarkable about what a determined and intelligent young Black woman can accomplish.

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Arisson Stanfield can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @OddestOdyssey.