Every Monday at 4:30 p.m., as our eight-ish-hour press night is just beginning in The Brown and White newsroom, the top editors stop what they are doing and meet to talk about the next week’s editorials.
Our routine this semester has usually looked something like this: editorial pages editor Brendan Rego gathers everyone together and pitches an idea. Then, everyone helps to flesh out the idea and turn it into a story, sometimes disagreeing with him and offering a different perspective from what was originally brought up.
Once the angle has been determined, Rego and deputy editorial pages editor Brianna Banful produce a draft of the piece to be pushed up through the editing chain for further revision and, eventually, publication.
In total, we’ve published 22 editorials this semester. Some of these advocated for the power of students with varying levels of optimism, some discussed topics of national importance aimed at a broad audience beyond Lehigh and some discussed specific issues that nobody outside the university bubble would care about much.
Although the board consists of people who largely share similar interests and ideas, our different experiences allow us to consider new perspectives.
From the time managing editor Sam Barney-Gibbs said an editorial strictly focusing on the nostalgia of snow days may exclude students from warmer climates to the numerous occasions when sports editor Eddie Fuhrer pitched an idea that none of us would have thought up on our own, a spot on this board has allowed each of us to explore topics and extend ourselves intellectually in ways we would not have been able to otherwise.
There is importance in these conversations.
Thinking about and forming opinions on complicated topics is and should be difficult. Even if you are in a room surrounded by people who you largely agree with on fundamental issues, you should expect and encourage there to be some disagreements along the way.
The Editorial Board has presented opinions on Lehigh’s updated dining system, the mass shooting crisis in America and the beauty that comes with the end of seasonal depression.
Our opinions on these topics may not have been the “right” ones (insofar as a “right” opinion even exists), but they were all crafted in good faith.
You may not have agreed with the conclusions we arrived at, but they were all formed through deep thought, research, conversation and revision.
But, in an attempt to not come off as too pretentious during our final act, we should point out that we are not a group of enlightened philosophers coming up with groundbreaking ideas. We are just people — students having conversations. Anybody can form an editorial board.
In fact, as the semester comes to an end, that’s exactly what we encourage all of you to do.
Grab a group of classmates, friends or strangers and talk with them about something, anything. Maybe it’s an issue you’ve talked about previously in class, maybe it’s a reaction to the news. It doesn’t matter so long as you are actively engaged and listening.
So much of the interpersonal strife in the country, from political polarization to friend-group drama, is exacerbated by people choosing not to listen to those with which they disagree. If a conversation turns against an idea or position you agree with, most people will shut down or revert to talking points so they don’t have to deal with the consequences of having their minds changed.
We by no means are saying the Editorial Board is free from these fallacies, nor are we saying a group of Lehigh students having conversations is going to have any immediate impact on the intransigence of the deep-seated beliefs many of us hold.
However, mindfulness of your ideological blockage and a willingness to engage with dissent will go a long way toward becoming more empathetic and open-minded.
So, as we move on and welcome in a new Editorial Board for the fall (not that there won’t be some returning faces), we want to leave you with the inspiration to seek out difficult conversations.
Create spaces where you can generate ideas with a group of people. Engage in discussions where you can learn from each other. And prepare to get uncomfortable with ideals that may not match your own.