I’m leaving. It wasn’t an easy decision.
I applied to Albion as a joke. My dad went here, and the application was free.
“Watch me get into your alma mater, pops,” I said to him.
Then, I got in. But I still didn’t want to go here. To me, Albion was just the school my Dad went to – one of many small Michigan colleges that start with the letter “A” (Adrian, Albion, Alma, Aquinas – it’s a weird trend, really).
Attending Albion was never in my game plan. Then, my dad and I visited campus. He showed me around his old stomping grounds, excited to show me what he remembered from his time here.
“That’s twin towers, I lived there! This used to be North Hall! Bernie Lomas used to live here and I would dog-sit for him!” he said.
We went downtown to Cascarelli’s, and Jim Cascarelli, the proprietor of the restaurant, remembered my dad’s name.
“Greg, the last time you were in here, you were face-down, asleep on the bar,” he said. “How you doing now?” (My dad is now approaching 33 years sober, for the record.)
That small-town memory was certainly an attractor. I thought to myself, maybe I can come here and become a memorable, belligerent drunk at Cascarelli’s. (I joke; I too am sober.)
But it wasn’t my dad’s poor behavior that ultimately brought me here. What brought me here was an article penned by former editor-in-chief of the Pleiad, Jordan Revenaugh, ‘21. It was her final address as editor-in-chief, much like the article you are reading right now. I didn’t know it at the time, but as I stood outside of the Stockwell-Mudd library reading her words, she predicted my future.
In it, Revenaugh writes about her family of Albion alumni (yup) who brought her to the college (same), and while here, at 17 years old, she held a copy of the Pleiad outside of the Stockwell-Mudd Library and imagined her name among the others on the masthead (my exact experience).
It was her final address that compelled me to go here. I came to Albion College to write for the Pleiad, and I’m so glad I did.
I say it and mean it all the time: being editor-in-chief of the Pleiad is the best job I’ve ever had. I’ve had the opportunity to wear responsibility on my shoulders. I’ve been able to make meaningful connections and share my passion for journalism with so many people. But I didn’t expect it to be this great.
When I took this job at the end of my first year, I was terrified. I was wholly unprepared, I had only written for six weeks and I barely knew what AP style was. But now, looking back at my disheveled, stressed out, scared self, I want to tell him it will be okay. It will be better than okay – it will be life-changing.
My team and I have reported stories of consequence. We’ve dug through public records, given hour-long interviews, stayed up all night designing print editions and listened to Opinion Editor Juan Rodriguez call public officials words I cannot publish here. It has been joyful, rewarding work.
Frankly, this place has been a reporter’s dream: A budget crisis, controversial coaches, student-led protests, a vacant nature center, a lack of electricity and a lack of a president have defined my time here as a student and reporter. Our staff has done an excellent job navigating this campus and the stories within it. Pleiad reporters, like all student journalists, are to be taken seriously.
As I pass the baton of editorship to the highly talented Bella Bakeman, I trust the readers of Albion will look to the Pleiad as a beacon of hyper-local journalism, a platform of student voices.
So, why am I leaving?
The list of reasons for leaving looks a lot like that list of journalistic dream fodder. I have watched the institution of Albion College fumble and fail to navigate its way through controversy. As a student of this college, they have let me down.
But, I realize that no matter what school I go to, institutional ineptitude will be a constant. The University of Michigan, my next home, has a potentially worse track record. Controversial presidents and financial disputes are just as common over there. I would be wrong to say the controversy is the only reason I’m leaving.
I recognize my cringeworthy, retina-burning privilege when I say what I’m about to say, but I have a duty to tell you the truth:
What U of M can offer me that Albion doesn’t is a sense of belonging and a good cup of coffee.
I have struggled to call Albion home since the moment I arrived. I spend most of my time in my dorm or in class. I only go to events to report on them. I’ve spent this academic year holed up in the Pleiad office or my dorm room, stressed out and sad. That’s not to say I’ve hated my time here – I loved much of it – but I never felt at home. Outside of the Pleiad, there was not much I wanted to do.
I spent my weekends alone, drinking Biggby coffee in the mornings (I hate Biggby, which is a whole separate opinion that I will leave alone for now) and pushing through a mountain of homework and editing. I stayed in my dorm because the library is closed for most of the day, and I’d run to Baldwin to eat if it was open. It’s been monotonous and tiring.
But the point of this piece is not to complain about the college – people do that enough. The point of this piece is to reflect upon the moments here I have loved.
As I look back at the work our team has done this semester, I don’t think of the bad, the stress and the deadlines. I am overwhelmingly reminded of joy.
I’m thinking of staff writer Bonnie Lord (next year’s managing editor!) who arrived on staff and charmed our readers with her watercolor illustrations. I’m thinking of Friday night trivia rounds with my fellow patriot Juan Rodriguez. I’m thinking of the countless jokes and memories I share with our ever-brilliant advisor, Krista Quesenberry.
In the last eight months, I’ve built important, reciprocal, lovely relationships. That too reminds me of overwhelming joy.
And broadly, in my two years at Albion College, I have learned the true value of journalism. I’m honored to have worked with a team of dedicated, talented writers and photographers. The Pleiad has taught me work ethic, vulnerability, interpersonal skills, honesty and love. It is invaluable.
Reader: when you hold a Pleiad print edition in your hand, or when you tap on a story from our Instagram, recognize the work that went into it. I’ve learned a lot at Albion College, but no lesson have proven as true as this:
Pleiad reporters will hustle. Even when I’m gone, that won’t change a bit.