By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
These 10 pages of newsprint you are holding are talented and versatile.
While bringing you the news and opinions from around campus twice a week, they manage to be many other things to many people.
To many, perusing these pages is a Wednesday and Friday ritual after Chapel.
To a few, these pages are a place to see their names, like my cousin Caleb Henderson, who has bothered me all year to sneak his name somewhere into an issue.
To a couple special individuals, the news and opinions on these pages represent all that is going wrong with Christianity and ACU.
On a rainy day, these pages might be nothing more than an umbrella during a mad dash to a car or the Campus Center.
But to me – these pages are my college experience. They are what I often have spent countless weeknights and more than 30 hours each week producing the past two years as editor in chief. They are what I have spent more than my fair share of all-nighters working on and the reason I have spent a few nights sleeping on my hideous office couch.
And as I bring to a close eight semesters of my own contributions to the Optimist, I naturally wonder what – besides the headlines, page designs and articles – has my contribution been and what has it meant.
I’ve had the privilege of covering several historic events for ACU this year: the Centennial Celebration, the 50th Sing Song and the last February Lectureship. All have led me to research the history of each tradition, which led me to the same place: the Optimist archives.
In the archives, I’ve seen the names of reporters who covered the first Sing Song and countless Lectureship openings. I’ve seen the reports of those writers who covered an “anthrax scare” on campus and the events of Sept. 11 through the eyes of students.
With each story and each writer’s name, I tried to put myself in the shoes of that journalist and wonder what it must have been like to cover some of those historic events.
These reporters have left us the history of the university preserved on a yellowing page of newsprint or, now, a digital archive. All I can hope is that my legacy is pieces of four years of university history now forever preserved online and in the library.
I hope my Sing Song coverage of the 50th Show can be of some use to the Optimist editor in 2056 covering the 100th Sing Song.
I hope my coverage of Soulforce Equality Ride can be a reminder to future administrations of how to treat those with different opinions than our own.
Who knows? Maybe some random story I wrote will even help the editor of The ACU Centuries, the coffee-table book (or whatever medium has replaced books by then), which undoubtedly will be published in 2106 commemorating the university’s Bicentennial Celebration.
Whether or not the university came across looking good in my stories never particularly mattered to me, so long as the truth was portrayed accurately. But I leave with many more memories of the good than the bad.
So long ACU. I’m proud to have documented four years of your history. And now I’m proud that you are part of my history.