When I wandered into the Campus Times office the Wednesday of my first official week of college, I had no idea how much the place would come to mean to me. A freshman straight out of Orientation, I had no way of knowing that the office would eventually feel like more of a home than my dorm room, that the staff would become some of my closest friends, or that CT would ultimately define my life at Rochester. All I knew was that I was interested in journalism, and what better way to see if I was cut out for the job than by joining the newspaper?
A part of the University of Rochester since 1873, the Campus Times is a weekly, student-run publication. Typically 16 pages long, the paper is divided into news, opinions, features, humor, arts and entertainment, and sports. In addition to the section editors, our current 18-person staff includes photo, copy, and managing editors along with our illustrator, publisher, and editor in chief. While we editors do our fair share of writing, we are also supported by a substantial number of other student writers that volunteer their services to keep the paper going every week.
During my first semester, I wrote for several different sections and spent as many Wednesdays as I could in the office for production night—the ~12-hour period when the staff comes together to lay out pages, fill them with content, and circulate them through several levels of editing before sending them to the publisher Thursday morning. Along with a number of other new freshmen, I did preliminary copy editing for the editors and headed home around 11 pm, leaving the staff to finish up the higher-level stuff.
I enjoyed the work that I did for the CT those first few months, but I knew that what I really wanted to do was become an editor. So when the end of the semester rolled around, I ran for the position of 2014 features editor, and got it.
While I knew that the position would be quite the time commitment, I admit I wasn’t quite prepared for how much it would consume my life—the constant emailing, worrying about my writers meeting their deadlines, worrying about having enough writers, struggling to get all my Thursday homework done by Tuesday, and of course, the constant sleep deprivation that comes from only getting approximately two to four hours of sleep every single Wednesday for a semester. The spring semester last year was rough to say the least.
Thankfully, all the stressful (and at times, nearly insufferable) aspects of being a CT editor (did I mention the heartbreak of opening a newly published issue and spotting mistakes—often ones you know you fixed—all over your pages?), all the stuff that makes you question why in the world you’re putting yourself through this torture, are matched by just as many wonderful, exhilarating, and blissful moments that remind you why it’s all very much worth it.
Yes, coming up with article ideas each week and making sure they all get written can be tough. But it has made me to be so much more aware of and involved in the campus community, not to mention an expert networker and problem solver. Yes, production nights can go pretty late and sleep deprivation can make doing anything on Thursdays pretty much impossible. But Wednesday nights are also one of the most fun parts of my week: hour upon hour spent with my friends listening to music, talking and laughing together, goofing off occasionally, and making more wonderful memories than we can count. Yes, there have been times when I’m not sure how I’ll be able to handle all the pressure. But I always have my features coeditor (and one of my closest friends) Dani right there with me to get our section through. What’s more, we’ve gotten our jobs down to a science this semester and have been finishing our pages around midnight (rather than the typical 3:30 am completions last year).
While working on the Campus Times might be the epitome of a love-hate relationship, at the end of the day, there’s a whole lot more love than anything else. It’s challenged me and made me grow in so many ways, and while it hasn’t always been the easiest thing to admit, I’m truly grateful that I walked into the office last September and decided to keep coming back.