Edit Desk: Attendance is mandatory

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Marissa McCloy

Proliferated. Incandescent. Guise. Lament. Ineffable.

I keep a list of striking words in the Notes app on my phone.

I haven’t yet found a great use for most of these words, but I feel more secure knowing they are tucked in my back pocket.

Words fill up so much of my life. I study journalism, collect antique books and beg people to play Scrabble with me.

Yet, despite my obsession with the written realm, there are times in which I can’t find the right words. There are many sights and sensations I can’t describe and don’t want to.

There are situations where I think my words fall short — both in my personal life and journalistic pursuits.

By calling both a nail polish color and a sunset beautiful, I equate factory-produced chemicals to something as unparalleled as nature. I do my mother injustice by telling her thank you — the same words I mumble when a professor hands me an exam.

Over five semesters on the staff of The Brown and White, I have typed a lot of words, and I have learned that the words my friends and I string together are capable of great impact.

In addition to documenting this semester, we’ve taken an interest in the years of Lehigh’s past, as the News section has published articles about the history of the University Center and the history of Founder’s Day, for instance. I am proud of these pieces and of our collection of campus history, but articles about history and events fall short of the actual experiences.

Words can recount Founder’s Day in 1912 or yesterday’s campus event, but they don’t offer the atmosphere of that celebration more than 100 years ago or the vivid memories you’ll have 50 years after you graduate.

As you scroll or page through The Brown and White, reading our words, recognize that these articles narrate episodes of your everyday life on campus. You were in the crowd on the UC Front Lawn that late October night for the Halsey concert. You experienced the frenzy prompted by the university’s chain of housing emails. You waited in line for two hours at the Litzenberger House to vote in the midterm elections.

The newspaper staff tries to capture these historical moments and others as best we can, aided by words, video footage and photographs.

But you have to get out there and see everything for yourself.

Attendance at the Rivalry game, the meeting of the oldest rivalry in American college history and Lehigh’s biggest football game of the year, is expected to be unusually low this year. Events for Spirit Week have suffered a dip in participation in recent years, and registration numbers for some Rivalry events predict the trend will continue.

Clicking through a photo gallery or even watching a 360 video doesn’t place you at a tailgate, with the warmth of friendly company and hot chocolate. Reading about how important an election can be is pretty useless if you don’t vote. Scanning an article about a play or concert certainly doesn’t instill the emotion compelled by a live performance. 

Our job as student journalists is to participate on campus and record our experiences as best we can. I love words and I’ll definitely keep using them in The Brown and White and elsewhere. However, you have to participate if you want to witness the breadth of the university experience, because not everything can be written down.

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2 Comments

  1. Love your words. And participation needs to be a constant. Let me give you a little “50 years after” perspective: Saw Janice Joplin at Rider in ’65; recently saw Sir Elton at The Garden. Both great, vivid memories, merged in a memory bank full and vital. A bank full of participation deposits.

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