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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Taking stock after seven semesters

Published: May 2, 2008
Section: Features

Say it like you mean it – three years of The Hoot / seven semesters of The Hoot.


Three years, seven months, and four days ago when I first stepped foot onto this campus, Brandeis was a different world. Every year, changes have mounted to the point where I know that this university will be largely unrecognizable to me in twenty years – and not just in terms of dwindling green space. As a tour guide during Alumni Weekend two summers ago, I led groups of Brandeis grads from years ending in 1 and 6 around campus. Many of the older alums didn’t recognize half of the buildings and the ’81 and ‘86 grads kept asking, “What happened to the Stein?” Apparently in the ‘80s, it was a legitimate campus hot spot, an “authentic Irish pub” as they called it. Clearly, campus culture changes depending on who populates the campus. While arguably there is a certain type of person who chooses to attend Brandeis, we are not all the same make and model year after year.

That difference was evident with Igor Pedan ‘05, who took frustration and with campus media and did something about it. And so the first Hoot issued forth in January 2005. Stacks of black and white newspapers started appearing next to stacks of colorful ones, but that wasn’t the real difference. People began talking. People who were freshmen and had no real idea about the history of newspapers on campus, were reading and forming opinions. The reaction of the campus back then has become the hallmark of this paper now – perpetuation of discussion.

In an environment where the collective memory erases itself every four years, it’s important to hand down pieces of the past to the younger generation. It’s important to keep the conversation going to bridge the knowledge gap. The campus as it was then took advantage of Igor’s knowledge, which he left in the hands of the subsequent Editor-in-Chief, Heather Zaijdel ‘07, and so on, in the hopes that people would never stop talking, never stop questioning. To The Hoot, the community is no different from the staff. We are all a part of this university and every member of this community has a voice in the paper whenever they want it.

There are big ideas and even bigger possibilities within the pages of this paper, stretching out into an infinite web of online possibilities. Whatever interests you, as interests change, The Hoot is an environment for change. One of the great things about college is that we learn not only in our classes, but also from each other. This paper is not just about news. It is not just about art. It is not just about sports, or opinions, or comics, or pictures, or illustrations, or Podcasts or videos.

This paper is ultimately about people, and, shockingly, people are flawed. This paper is not perfect, this campus is not perfect, and that is why The Hoot exists and persists. If everything was perfect, we would sit down and shut up. Nothing will ever be perfect, but perfection is not the point. For whatever negativity exists on this campus – and we all know there is plenty – The Hoot is a piece of hopeful optimism for the future. This paper may not exist in this form, but as my former editor-in-chief Andy Meyers says, we respresent a group of people that keeps coming back, like those who wrote for The Watch and The Brandeisian before us. We are not the title of our publication, but a certain type of people – and we are Brandeisians, with everything else that entails.

Can you really change the world with a newspaper? It certainly can’t hurt to try. It’s not up to me and my fellow seniors anymore. I leave it to your more capable hands. All of you.