Letter from the excited new Op-Ed section editor

Sophia Lewis Opinions and Editorials Editor “My childhood Perry the Platypus-shaped stereo.”

The opinions expressed in The Lawrentian are those of the students, faculty and community members who wrote them. The Lawrentian does not endorse any opinions piece except for the staff editorial, which represents a majority of the editorial board. The Lawrentian welcomes everyone to submit their own opinions. For the full editorial policy and parameters for submitting articles, please refer to the About section.

I am writing to you an edition late. Two weeks ago, as spring break sat in my rearview mirror, and a meeting with The Lawrentian Editorial Board sat in my schedule ahead of me, I found myself having started my first term as editor of the Opinions and Editorials section with about an hour and a half of training under my belt, from the great fifth year Evan Ney, who all of a sudden wasn’t there to tell me what to do. In fact, there was no one there telling me what to do, and there was a group chat full of writers waiting for me to start making requests of them. I experienced a brief, panicked moment of missing the ease of being a writer, when I could simply write when someone told me to and flounder until then, a position I had occupied mere weeks before. Suddenly, I had a sweet, innocent baby strapped to my back, and I had to care for it. 

The Ed Board meeting provided me with some guidance and organizational structure that I hadn’t expected: an addition as new as me. After the meeting, I had an immediate game plan. With a head filled with purpose and the A Floor of the library all to myself, I spent about two hours that night drafting a little document for my writers to read that described how the term was going to go for them. It’s a little embarrassing, looking back, that it took me two hours to write basically a summary of the half-hour meeting I had just had, but that was time my brain demanded for the organization of my thoughts, and my writers needed to know all the information as clearly as possible. I was up so late that it would have been rude to send a big announcement in the group chat at that hour. Instead, I scheduled the message for the morning, logged my hours, and hoped that I was covering all of my bases.  

Op-Ed section editor sophomore Sophia Lewis.
Photo provided by Adam Fleischer.

I was incredibly stressed out about giving people instructions, especially since I really hadn’t met any of them. In the morning, when I checked the group chat and saw people easily following my instructions, I realized that we are all adults here. I am not a kid who needs constant guidance; I am capable of being thrown into a leadership position with close-together deadlines and mere hope for the reliability of my writers. Ney, my predecessor, was able to figure this out and build his own loose organizational structures with pure experience over time, having had less training than I did. His success and his passion for being an editor has been a great motivating factor for me in the chaos of these first couple weeks in classes and in this new position.  

As I was being trained, I watched Ney edit an article with the Midwestern gentleness embodied in “I think” and “kind of” phrases that soften the blow of criticism. That same gentleness does not come naturally to me; I have never been afraid of red ink, nor have I ever been stingy with it. But my strength comes in the kindness I put at the end: I ensure that my writers know when they have written an excellent article. I am making a point of ensuring that the whole section is congratulated for their cooperation after each successful edition. I make my expectations for the section clear with frequent reminders of deadlines, something I believe Ney was much more subtle about. My kindness is not the same easygoing gentleness as Ney’s, but hopefully with my own tactful combination of clarity, enthusiasm and flexibility, I can comfortably lead this section my way.  

All this is to say that I write to you an edition late because I was very stressed out during the first couple of weeks of school and putting together the first edition for this term. I know that once I settle into this new position, the ideas for improvement will flow forth from my mind. For now, I appreciate your patience and your readership. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and commit to this incredible project. I will not let The Lawrentian or its readers down.