Around the newsroom, we often joke about how our work sometimes makes people mad. We’ve been accused of chasing scandals, promoting gossip or trashing groups on campus. We’ve been accused of not having school spirit or not caring about positive things.
After writing for the Optimist for four years and serving as editor-in-chief for one year, I want to share the Optimist I’ve come to know.
The Optimist is paying attention to the little things on campus – the myACU ads for student events, the soap in the GATA Fountain, the broken air conditioner in COBA. It’s talking to students, meeting with them for interviews and trying our best to always get their name, classification, major and hometown.
The Optimist is emails – lots and lots of emails. It’s putting Dr. Phil Schubert on speakerphone while he’s in the airport and you’re in your car frantically trying to take notes on a piece of scrap paper. It’s knocking on faculty office doors and begging them for an interview. It’s chatting in the Campus Center with club presidents and learning what they think about changes to the pledging process.
The Optimist is 106 years of campus history. It’s thousands of stories that seem to repeat themselves over and over – a new SA president, another nonprofit fundraiser, pledging, Homecoming, Sing Song, etc. It’s writing the first draft of history as the university took steps toward changing the LGBT policy.
The Optimist is finding out a football player was arrested for sexual assault and writing about it on your phone on the bus in another state. It’s sitting down to talk with that same student and finding out he claims innocence and believes he was falsely accused. It’s scouring legal documents, calling the district attorney’s office and wondering if you have the real story or if you’ll ever know what really happened.
The Optimist is arguing over which club should get an honorable mention in the Sing Song edition. It’s ordering pizza for long nights of designing. It’s staying up all night just to make sure every word lines up on the pages even though we know thousands of copies will end up in the recycle bin or a papier-mâché float or lining a dog kennel.
The Optimist is the ultimate school spirit. It’s almost getting hit with a firework cannon so you can get a good photo of the football team running onto the field. It’s running up and down from the press box to the field during the game and staying until the end even when the Wildcats are losing and most students have left.
The Optimist is calling the family members of students who have died. It’s listening to them talk for hours about the baby girl they’ll never see again in this life. It’s putting the death of your little on the front page because no matter how heartbreaking the news is, the news is the news.
I’ve called the Optimist my boyfriend, because it feels like I’m in a relationship with it, and my baby, because I would do anything for it. I’ve said “I am the Optimist” because there were times when I thought it wouldn’t survive without me.
But the truth is, the Optimist is a service to the university. The Optimist is the good, the bad and the ugly of ACU. It’s a magnifying glass that enlarges our misspelled words and our campus’s hidden blemishes or overlooked heroes. The Optimist is not its editor or the students or the sources or the administration or the department in which it’s housed.Optimist is ACU. May it go on for as long as people say “Go Wildcats.”