The most cliche thing I could possibly say is that my Georgetown education has taken place outside the classroom.
But, as you probably guessed, that’s what I’m going to say, and it’s true.
As editor-in-chief of The Hoya, I’ve spent I-don’t-want-to-know-how-many hours in this office, skipped way too many classes and met everyone who works the 3 a.m. Leavey Center shift.
My cell phone number has been printed in 318,500 newspapers (I’ve only gotten one creepy message), and I leave more voicemails than any normal college student in 2014.
Over three-and-a-half years, I’ve written and edited hundreds of articles. I’ve argued with administrators, defended our reporters against criticism and sought to improve when that criticism is right and we haven’t done our best work.
None of this is unique; it’s the norm for dozens of Hoya staffers, and for staffers at student newspapers across the country.
Through the monotony and excitement of running a newspaper, what has been the most significant to me is that The Hoya retains its character as more than just a paper. Even during tough times, The Hoya remains a refuge from academics and outside life, a part of Georgetown’s history and, most importantly, a place to learn.
The Hoya exists for the Georgetown community, but it also exists for the students who work here. We are and should be held accountable by our readers for everything we print, but as much as this newspaper is about its final product, it’s also about the learning process that gets 40 articles on the page and delivered to newsstands twice a week.
The Hoya’s biggest, most public mistakes offer their own form of learning experience, whether we’ve published something that did not meet our readers’ standards and are appropriately called out on it, or whether someone with access to The Hoya’s Facebook account accidentally likes our own post.
But I’ve found that the routine procedure of chronicling our campus community is where the lasting learning happens, and it’s what I’ll remember most about The Hoya.
It’s through a malfunctioning tape recorder that deletes an hour-long interview, a lost front page five minutes before deadline or the mysterious (yet temporary) disappearance of every photo The Hoya has ever taken that we learn to handle a crisis.
Through an embarrassing copy error (my favorite is “District of Colombia”) or a silly blunder (referring to an unnamed student in a photo as “Girl, left”), we learn how to make mistakes and move on.
Over the six nights a week I’ve spent in this office for two years, I relearned every night at 12:15 a.m. that Uncommon Grounds closes at midnight, and not 1 a.m., and that Mai Thai will deliver right to your Leavey 421 desk, if you ask nicely.
After reporting and writing about the intricacies of Georgetown and the people who make up this place, some of us discover a passion for journalism and perhaps decide the course of our careers.
The Hoya will celebrate its 95th anniversary this year, and these lessons only become more integral to the paper as time passes (especially Mai Thai delivery). The challenges The Hoya faces have evolved since I started here over three years ago, and they’ll change as the next staff takes the newspaper in their own direction.
But no matter how much The Hoya transforms, its defining feature will always be its role as both a resource and an outlet for students to learn by reading, and by doing.
Acting as editor-in-chief of The Hoya has been the greatest honor, challenge and privilege of my time on this campus. I can only hope that I’m leaving this role having served the paper half as much as it’s served me.
Emma Hinchliffe is a senior in the College. She is the 140th editor-in-chief of The Hoya. Her term ends Saturday.