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Graduating Campanil staff say their final goodbyes: Annie O’Hare

Annie O'Hare.
Annie O’Hare.

I haven’t been at Mills very long. Transferring in as a junior, I knew I would only have four semesters to squeeze as much out of the experience for myself as I could. This isn’t a very romantic way to begin a farewell but I would be lying if I said I started my time at Mills smelling of school spirit. College just didn’t seem like a place I would find comfortable space—an assumption based on a clunky mixture of elitist hope and dread. I planned to get in and out quickly and quietly.

Clubs? No thank you. Group projects? If I must.

It wasn’t until I started writing for The Campanil that I began to understand a responsibility to my peers at school. Doing well by the paper meant I would have to change the basic way I passed through campus. It forced me to pay attention to the space around me, to engage with the community and find their voices. When I was made News Editor the added responsibility was for me a trial by fire, the responsibility pushed me past where I thought I was ready to go. Working with writers to produce their best content was one of the most rewarding parts of the job; it meant clueing in to their perspectives and understanding when they needed more time and when they needed to be pushed. The staff of The Campanil has been immensely supportive; Editor in Chief Lauren Sliter both listened to my weekly nauseated concerns of those first weeks and made it clear that no one was coming to save me. The paper would go out on schedule and it would go out with a News section. That was that.

It is a strange thing for an organization to continue while the people who make it up are always changing. A college newspaper, by nature, is constantly in flux. Leadership changes, people graduate. As people leave they try to ensure the scaffolding is in place for the next cast to continue building. When people enter they try to gauge how much of the structure they can shift in order to make it their own without sacrificing too many of the load-bearing beams.

When I first joined the paper I felt my greenness in that particular way that comes from assuming the people around you are well-seasoned. We are all students, we make mistakes, that’s sort of the point. Every week obscured my view of the next, getting a paper out this week was the end goal: each week was the only week that would ever be. The most I could picture of how I wanted to leave The Campanil when I graduated was only concerned with not burning the place down.

The nature of how news moves in the world is changing rapidly but it has never been more clear to me that a healthy independent newspaper, whether online or print, is essential to a college. This is especially true for a small private school that is not obliged to make its every movement public record like a public university. The newspaper should provide the space: it should be the forum where students, staff, faculty, and the administration can show solidarity and get things done.

I believe we all want Mills to continue to grow in strength and service. It must be recognized that open, on-the-record discourse without fear of backlash is an essential element of this growth We are all what make up Mills College; The Campanil doesn’t just belong to the people in the newsroom, it belongs to you, it’s our obligation to uphold that responsibility.

We have had some hiccups. I have learned to address problems without beating my chest and begging for forgiveness. There will always be opportunities for improvement, and those graduating are not handing over a perfectly tuned and oiled newspaper. What we are passing down is a dear passion into immensely capable and dynamic hands. This semester has been tough but it was with a sort of manic glee that I watched the challenges bring forth a team that I am deeply impressed with and proud for.

I feel very lucky for my short time at Mills. What a wonderful place where professors and are not only passionate about their fields of study, but about their students as well.