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From 2015 to 2019 — from my first year of college to my last — the Pleiad has transfigured.
I signed up for the Pleiad at Briton Bash, a week into my first semester. I became a staff writer a few weeks later.
Unknown to me, the Pleiad was creeping away from a past of fluff “news” during my joining.
That year, under editor-in-chief Clare Kolenda, the Pleiad launched its first print edition since the Great Recession.
When I was a sophomore, under Emily Miller, the Pleiad worked to revamp its online presence. Emily helped reconstruct the publication’s online site, making it phone-friendly and clean-cut. Its social media pages became carefully controlled and effectively used.
Steve Marowski led his team of journalists into a number of tough coverage subjects when I was a junior. The work the staff put in reporting on campus issues without bias and with depth and clarity cemented that barrier between fluff past and reputable present.
I wanted to continue the Pleiad’s streak of fundamental change as its 2018-2019 editor-in-chief. I wanted to continue the guidance and support that editors-in-chief once offered to me and other staff writers.
As of the last publishing day of this academic year, I hope I have seen these wants of mine fulfilled.
This year’s Pleiad changes were subtle. We made its print editions more dynamic and engaging. Chosen articles were meant to be meaningful to as many readers as possible. Images were meant to engage. Halloween and April Fool’s editions were meant to attract new readers.
We launched an email newsletter, too, as a means to reach a new group of potential readers we were missing through occasional prints and tri-weekly social media posts. You can sign up for it here.
In March 2019, we began working with the Albion Recorder and two Albion College students in capturing in word the stories of Albion’s unspoken movers and shakers, especially the stories of folks of color. The goal is to create a book that will be dispersed in 2020’s Juneteenth or Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation.
We also worked on contingency. The Pleiad’s staff is ever-changing, so we made sure to provide clearer job descriptions, clearer expectations and clearer tutorials for the next iterations of editing staff.
I don’t know how many keystrokes, interview recordings, emails, InDesign text box size adjustments, notebook scribbles and headaches I’ve put into the Pleiad. I don’t want to know how much sweat has been caked onto the Pleiad room’s chairs because I came to its meetings right after track practice.
Many times, I’d sit with a half-written article draft or a half-written email in front of me, not knowing if all the extra work I put into the Pleiad was worth the reward. Sometimes, I despised not the work I had to do, but the fact that I had to do this work on top of academic, athletic and social obligations.
But, as I prepare to end my time with the publication, I’ve come to know this: The Pleiad has been the single-most meaningful college opportunity for my post-college career. I’ve come to know this as well: I love the Pleiad in totality, despite the small moments of time where I’ve hated it. If I could work for the Pleiad full-time after graduating, I’d be tempted to apply.
If anything, I’d take to continue to work with my teammates. We’ve laughed together. We’ve sent passive-aggressive emails to one another. People make the Pleiad, and those people are stellar.
There’s still so much work to be done. In my four years, the Pleiad’s staff has held a diversity of gender and sexual orientation but not of race and ethnicity. It’s invaluable to the publication and those it serves to actively encourage people of all identities and experiences to apply. Otherwise, we as journalists miss out on stories from underserved communities that need to be told.
To close, I thought I’d pass along the good word on classes. The courses below fundamentally expanded my perception of and appreciation for the world and myself. Enroll in one of them.
In the list, you’ll see one professor’s classes stated three times. That’s for good reason. Mary Collar made me a better reader, writer and man.
I think she expects that to happen with her students, but she likely doesn’t know that her classes helped me work toward coming out publicly.
Thank you, Dr. Collar.
Classes (in the order I took them)
LA 101: Designing Your World (John Woell)
ENVM 289: Sustainable Cities (Patrick McLean)
ENGL 152: Love and Poetry (Mary Collar)
ENGL 285: Gay and Lesbian Literature (Mary Collar)
ENGL 342: Modern Poetry (Mary Collar)
ARTH 289: African Arts (Nancy Demerdash-Fatemi)
GEOL 111: Geography and GIS (Mick McRivette)
PHIL 308: Biomedical Ethics (Bindu Madhok)
ENGL 361: Whitman & Dickinson in Context (Jess Roberts)
So long, and thanks for all the fish.