There is nothing more terrifying than looking at a blank page and counting down the minutes until an impending deadline. As I’m sure this is an experience you’ve all shared with essays and assignments, it’s even more terrifying when you can write on anything in the world – any topic at all. These are the feelings that I have had every week for the past 27 issues of The Brock Press this year, and this one is no different.
Ironically, this may be the most difficult editorial I’ve written, and it’s doubtlessly the most personal. Yet, I feel it’s necessary. If perhaps not for the reader, then for myself, to make sense of the last year and truly understand the privilege of this grind.
I’ve worked for this paper for the past three years, and it’s been probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It’s not a Sunday drive, or a weekend in Rome – you work for it and it works for you, in fact, it defines you. It literally shapes your life through school: it decides your circle of friends, your interests and your biases.
Some of my fellow staff members joke about the number of classes they’ve skipped working here, in order to get that story uploaded online as soon as possible, or to get the interview with the individual who wasn’t free at any other time, and it’s true. The job demands a lot from you.
When I first contributed to The Brock Press, it was sending in a movie review of Movie 43 – a universally panned sketch film that features Hugh Jackman with a set of testicles hanging from his chin: which is not usually the best application piece. Looking back, I never would have thought that contribution would have possibly led to working here full time as the Editor of the paper. As a result, this job has become the single greatest contributor to my personal university “experience”.
The current programming levy referendum in the BUSU election, promises a “better student experience”, and the “student experience” is something plastered everywhere by various clubs, businesses targeted towards students and the university itself – but this is a trope that is as limited in its scope as it is unhelpful. The student experience can not be summed up in a “Brock University Bucket List” or in a top 10 article in a blog, telling you “10 things you need to do as a Brock student”.
The brilliance of university is that there is free reign for more than 17,000 students to do as they wish. To carve out their personal experiences from a frontier of opportunities and obligations. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. One can go through university without ever staying past 5:00 p.m., going to classes and doing well. One can be so drowningly involved that they spend every night at the 24 hour Starbucks working on school work they’ve neglected. This is the diversity that Brock University provides. Don’t follow an ideal. You don’t have to recreate what you believe to be the idealized experience at a university – you don’t have to re-enact Animal House to consider yourself a true university student.
Ultimately, I chose this path. I chose the “actually attend classes when possible, and work your ass off for the student newspaper path” and I’m proud, honoured and privileged – I wouldn’t even dream of doing it differently if I had the chance.
If you’re approaching your graduation and feel disillusioned that you’ve never seen a house party get broken up by the cops, or pulled an all-nighter in the Plaza study space, or even something as innocuous as taking a selfie with the Sir Isaac Brock statue – don’t worry. You chose your experience, and it is an experience you can be proud of. Hold it, live it, and embrace it proudly, badgers.
- Steve Nadon