I’m more cynical than I thought, according to the results of my last column, “The Broken BC Bubble.”
In writing it, I never thought it would get almost 600 shares via Facebook and over 8,000 views—one of the most widely-read pieces on The Heights’ website.
At one point during the extensive and anxiety-ridden writing and editing process, I actually thought, “How many people are really going to read this, anyway?”
As a journalist, I am automatically stereotyped as a pessimist—however, I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly optimistic person. I often buy lottery tickets from the stand at the Harvard Square T station, and I find myself muttering, “It could be worse,” at least once a day.
I also never thought I would receive the amount of feedback I have gotten over the past few weeks regarding the column. Emails from people I haven’t talked to since freshman year as well as from friends who graduated two years ago, conversations with students after my classes who I didn’t think knew I existed, and last but certainly not least, a hysteric phone call from my mother asking if Sarah was a pseudonym for me.
I consider the piece to be a success (excluding a few nasty comments on The Heights’ website) not because of the number of views it has gotten or the kind words from practically strangers I have received, but because it has begun a conversation on campus.
Subsequent articles about Boston College’s sexual assault policy as well as BC’s relationship with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital have appeared in The Heights since its publication, and other media outlets, such as Her Campus, have responded positively to the column.
Although the intention of the column was to send an educational message to the student body, I unexpectedly learned something in return: My words, and the opportunity to write 700-750 words in a student newspaper every other week, is a great privilege that I should not be taking for granted.
Now that I know how many people I am able to affect just by sharing a powerful story, I am ashamed that I ever underestimated my readership.
I had little faith in BC’s student body, believing that even a story as important as Sarah’s would not be significant enough to make it into Facebook posts or suggested-reading emails. I doubted that this student body valued crucial social issues over BuzzFeed articles and Instagram posts.
I was very wrong, however—and impressed and a little nervous—about how many people identified with the column and its message. I am proud to be writing for a student body that places such high value on its fellow students’ safety.
Admittedly, I don’t always love writing my columns because I find it a little self-indulgent. What gives me the right to voice my opinions over the 9,000 other undergraduates at BC? Just because I am an editor doesn’t mean I necessarily have anything good to say.
With only one column left to write before my time as Features Editor is over, I’ve finally learned how to love to write these pieces: Focus on someone else. Although a column automatically implies the injection of one’s own opinion, it doesn’t necessarily need to be about one’s self.
My most successful column, in terms of both views and personal pride, had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with making sure other people on campus could be safer in their environment.
Admittedly, again, I should’ve known this from the beginning, since my job as Features Editor is to tell the stories of the people who make up the BC community, which I have been doing in my formal articles. For some reason, this idea didn’t transfer over to my opinion pieces until a more dramatic story needed to be told, but couldn’t be told in an objective setting.
My previous column was a wake-up call for me regarding my privilege and responsibility, just as much as it was a wake-up call for the BC community regarding safety. Although my days and words are literally numbered in terms of my ownership of this column, I now know the sheer power I hold at my fingertips.
Featured Image by Daniel Nanescu / Splitshire.com