As with most things at The Hoya, it all started with a phone call.
I was a first-semester freshman copy editor, recently promoted to deputy copy editor status, and my rational self was going to take my sweet time before making any major on-campus commitments.
Kidding. The newly elected copy chief, my boss at the time, had resigned. In a flurry of phone conversations over Thanksgiving break, I was being asked by Hoya elders to run for the spot and fill the void. So I did — and from there, I was sucked in, soon falling victim to a very Georgetown-esqueassumption that all commitments we make on campus should be permanent, all-consuming fixtures of our day-to-day lives. As I have upped my involvement over the years, however, I have found the reality to be far different.
College doesn’t last forever, as much as we’d like to think otherwise. It is a transitional, time-strapped whirlwind. Friendships can come and go, the all-nighters we pull to get ahead fade into obscurity, and yes, we phase out of the leadership positions we work so hard to assume. Through all these transitions, we learn to let go, trust others and gain the sort of perspective that any true adult needs in order to live fully — all in four short years.
This is not to undermine the features of undergraduate life that stay with us beyond the gates, whether the friendships that last or the lessons we learn. Rather, I recognize that college is the first time in our lives when we are forced to become comfortable with change, with difference; in short, it is when we realize that not all things are fixed. For The Hoya as a force for high-quality journalism on campus, the same realization must come to bear.
Historically, The Hoya has struggled with a self-imposed sense of permanence, to the point where it has stalled our institutional growth and our ability to transition to new ways of thinking; at times, we think we are unbreakable. We saw this with The Hoya’s disastrous and offensive 2009 April Fools’ issue when staffers became accustomed to tradition at the expense of being sensitive to all members of the campus community. We saw it day to day in the first years of this century as our online product lagged behind those of our peers. Most clearly, we have seen it in our years-long push to become an entity independent of the university.
As jarring as it may sound, we need to break ourselves in order to serve you, our readers. That means constantly questioning and reinventing across all areas of coverage, from our stories to our design, our recruitment to our social media strategy. And if you don’t see us whittling away at tired traditions for the sake of pursuing new ventures, please tell us. Chances are we’ve become a bit proud of our position, however esteemed, on this campus — and that feeling of permanence is no path to progress.
In the past year, I’d like to think we’ve made some headway on that path. Last January, we debuted the spring semester with a complete overhaul of our website, poring over design and content elements. Since then, we have adapted our production schedule to accommodate a 24-hour news cycle, adopting a new social media and multimedia strategy in the process.
Redesigns of our main issue, The Guide and all our new and existing special issues — Year in Review, Summer Guide, the New Student Survival Guide, the fashion issues and the Basketball Preview — have also come with a year’s worth of hard work. In all of these revamps, we have changed everything from font styles to story angles, from coloring to web platforms. All of this has been paired with greater attempts at community engagement, namely, more event sponsorships, our now-annual journalism conference, and no less important, complimentary Hoya sunglasses. Simply put, we are striving to inform your rendition of Georgetown — not just in our always-evolving coverage, but in other ways, too.
Any permanence worth having must come with an openness to change. As I close the book on another year of Hoya history, I put the onus on the next staff to strive for transformative leadership just as much as I expect you, our readers, to hold us accountable. Nurturing this relationship is the only way we can cultivate a tradition more than 90 years in the making for decades to come. Now that’s what I call permanence.
Eamon O’Connor is a senior in the College. He is the 137th editor-in-chief of The Hoya. His term ends Saturday.