Campus Philly’s CollegeFest 


Kylie McGovern, Editor

La Salle students enjoying Collegefest

On Sept. 10 through 12, Campus Philly hosted their annual Collegefest for La Salle students and other students in the area. Collegefest is a weekend-long event for students to explore Philadelphia by visiting 25+ museums for free, free SEPTA rides, a Campus Philly block party, and contests. Students signed up for this event by filling out a form with information regarding their graduation year, university and information about their college experience. Campus Philly’s mission is to “fuel inclusive economic growth by empowering diverse college students and recent graduates to explore, live and work in Greater Philadelphia.” Collegefest partners were various colleges and universities in the area including Drexel University, Saint Joseph’s University and Temple University to name a few. Although La Salle University is not currently a partner with Campus Philly, many La Salle students enjoy Collegefest each year and are encouraged by Residence Life staff to attend so they can become acquainted with the Philadelphia area. 

Although many La Salle University students hail from the greater Philadelphia area, Collegefest is an opportunity for out-of-state students like Junior Emily Allgair, who is from MD, to experience the joys the city has to offer for a free or low cost. Allgair says that this event is a “great way to see the city that I am not super familiar with. I loved being able to go to the Philadelphia art museum with my roommates. Collegefest was an opportunity to see the city and get off campus.” 

Similarly, Junior Grace McKenna who is from Long Island, NY said “Last year was my first time at CollegeFest and I had a lot of fun so I was excited to attend again this year. I loved being able to explore more of the city!”

La Salle Students from nearby like Junior Claire Ortiz from Lancaster, PA also got to enjoy the treats of Collegefest by visiting the Barnes Foundation and using free septa rides to travel there. Ortiz said that her experience at the Barnes Foundation at Collegefest was “easy to access using free SEPTA rides.” Ortiz explained that there were students all over center city Philadelphia enjoying Collegefest. Ortiz joked that she called these students “Collegefest-core” 

Luke Szyzkiewicz,  a Junior from Delran, NJ, went to Collegefest for the first time this year. Szyzkiewicz explained that he thought “the free septa rides were wonderful and getting into the museum was also fantastic.” Szyzkiewicz explained that his day began by getting on the subway at the Olney Transportation Center, heading to Reading Terminal Market for breakfast, and then going to the Barnes foundation. Szyzkiewicz concluded that Collegefest is “a very nice way to explore the city on a budget.” One critique Szyzkiewicz had regarding Collegefest was that he wished there was a way to connect his CollegeFest  registration to his SEPTA app for easy access. 

Lost in translation — Unnecessary limitations on La Salle’s language courses


Alina Snopkowski, Editor

There is a serious desire from students at La Salle to learn foreign languages. I had heard about it in passing through my time taking Russian classes, preparing for Foreign Language Awareness Week and otherwise advertising for language classes whenever I could — students would mention that “I would’ve liked to take German, but they didn’t offer it until after my freshman year and I didn’t see the point in starting it later,” or “I took French in high school and loved it but I could never fit it into my schedule,” or “I saw they used to offer Japanese but it doesn’t seem like they have it anymore,” and on and on and on. But how many students actually want to take foreign languages? How can we figure that out?

Support of interest

Throughout Foreign Language Awareness Week at the end of March, students were able to vote on languages that they would like to learn at La Salle. At events throughout the week, slips of paper were available where students could write their name, major, email and pick, in a perfect world free of scheduling conflicts and other circumstances, what language(s) they’d like to learn from a list of languages that have been offered at La Salle in the past (plus a space to list others). Here’s the results from that non-scientific, self-selection-biased, small-sample-sized poll:

All languages on the list have a number of interested students that meets or, in almost all cases (sorry, German), exceeds the 10-student minimum class size requirement.

When broken down by grade level, the highest interest is among current first-year students, which bodes well for the possibility of having students that continue to be able to take foreign language classes before they graduate. Many respondents to this poll indicated that they want to learn more than one language — an average of 1.73 for current juniors, 1.79 for freshmen, and 2.12 for sophomores.

Students who were at Foreign Language Week events were already more likely to be interested in languages, and therefore these results don’t represent the university as a whole. But, the poll results probably greatly underreport the desire for foreign language classes, because you had to physically be at one of these events to cast your vote, and students who were unable to attend or didn’t know about the events but still want to take language classes had no way of being counted. The point is, this poll as well as anecdotal evidence of “I really wanted to take French, but it was never offered when I had space in my schedule” and “I would’ve taken German if I could minor in it” and “I do Japanese on Duolingo and really want to take it here” show that there are many students who are interested in taking foreign language classes here.

So why aren’t they?

There is no university-wide foreign language requirement, although a couple of majors have their own versions. For example, the International Relations (IR) major includes a requirement for “four courses in Foreign Languages” and the program description section explains that “It requires four semesters of a language chosen by the student (including, for example, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Italian and others).” Note that it does not specify that it has to be the same language — that will come up again later. 

Economics and International Studies (ECI) requires “three courses in a single foreign language” with the goal that students in that major “will demonstrate reasonable proficiency in a foreign language.” The page devoted to the Department of Global Languages, Literatures and Perspectives shows that majors and minors are offered in Spanish, but for other languages (French, German, Italian, Japanese and Russian), courses are only available as electives.

Maybe students just aren’t interested in learning those other languages. Spanish is the most popular, and therefore there are plenty of students who will register for Spanish language and literature courses. But Russian? Italian? Japanese?

When I talked to the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Pamela Barnett, she said that, “I would love to see more students taking languages,” but explained that most languages are only offered every other year because of the university-wide policy that classes need 10 students signed up to run. This “scheduling rotation” was put in place because language courses would fill up in the first year but not at higher levels. Barnett said that the 10-student requirement was created because of the “learning that comes from diversity,” and explained that “I don’t want to cancel classes, but they also cannot run with only five people.” “Before the scheduling rotation,” she said, “often we would not have enough students even in the first year. And that meant even smaller numbers at higher levels. When we started to run every other year, the classes became larger and that’s when you get the learning from diversity.”

It’s a sort of chicken and egg problem, then — students aren’t signing up to take these classes, but these classes aren’t being offered. These classes might be offered if there was enough interest in them, but how can a student be interested in German 301 if they can’t even take German 101? These classes have to exist and develop for both the students’ and administration’s sakes.

Well, here’s one of the problems. There are too many entry-level classes offered in some languages, particularly Spanish, and too few beginner classes offered in others. According to Chair of the Global Languages Department, Dr. Vicki Ketz, most students who come into La Salle wanting to take Spanish classes already have some prior knowledge of Spanish from high school or earlier, and it wouldn’t make sense for them to start at the 101 level. The problem is, Spanish professors are told to offer multiple sections of Spanish 101 in the fall semester, even though, in reality, there’s a need for just one or maybe two sections at that level. 

What’s really needed are multiple sections of 102 and 201 in the fall, when new students are coming in, but those classes aren’t offered as often. The schedule is clogged up with classes that aren’t needed and there’s less space for ones that are. But how could the administration know how many classes are needed at certain levels?

We used to have a language placement test. It was optional and, if reinstated, it should probably stay optional, but my guess is that incoming freshmen would elect to take it, because they don’t want to start learning Spanish (or any other language) from scratch if they could instead just take a quick quiz so they’re put into a class that matches the level they’re at. Reinstating the language placement tests would provide the administration with the information they need to make informed decisions on how many sections of each class, and which levels, should be offered.

The placement test could also show that there’s demand for higher-level classes in languages besides Spanish — the very languages that are barely offered because of the impression that if we can’t scrounge up 10 students for French 101, how on earth would we be able to get that many for 102 and 201? Placement tests could show, for languages like French and German that are often offered in high schools, that there are actually more students who have some knowledge of that language than those who are starting from square one and need the 100-level courses. 

If an incoming freshman took several years of German in high school and wants to continue it at La Salle, but only sees German 101 offered, why would they take a class in basic topics they already know? But by not signing up for German 101 in the fall, that appears to show the administration that there’s a lack of interest in learning German altogether, and not the reality that there is an interest, just for higher levels. The chicken and egg are back. 

Repeat for French or Italian or any other language that’s commonly offered in high schools. We probably need to offer more upper-level language courses, not fewer, in languages like these, but the lack of quality placement tests and lack of students signing up for 100-level classes in languages they already have experience in sends the wrong message to those who make those decisions.

The issue is not that we do not have qualified, talented professors to teach these classes. The issue is not that we do not have interested, motivated students who want to take these classes. The issue is that students who want to take these language courses are unable to, that professors are forced to shut down classes when there’s not a certain number of students registered for them, that the administration does not know how many students come into La Salle with prior knowledge in a language and that certain classes are only offered at one time and, given the choice between taking a language class and fulfilling a major requirement, pretty much every student would pick the latter because there’s no way to fit both into their schedule.

This last issue has an obvious solution — coordinate scheduling between the language department and other departments that often see conflicts and also interest, particularly the departments that consistently see the most overlap (if I had to guess, I’d say political science). That way, a student won’t have to choose between Japanese 101 and Intro to Microeconomics. They can get more of what they want out of their education.

The scheduling conflict appears in other ways, too. For students in the Honors Program, a certain number of Honors electives are required for graduation and, especially in sophomore and junior years, fitting these electives into a schedule is prioritized over just about everything besides major-specific classes. Add in the required Honors Triple classes freshman year (History, Philosophy and English) and there are not many slots left to get started on a language.

If you want to learn a language you don’t have prior experience with, you really ought to get started as soon as you can. I was lucky my freshman year — Russian 101 was offered in the fall, and, with some adjusting around my Honors Triple and econ classes, I was able to take it. But, I also know that a lot of that was just good luck. If freshman year and sophomore year are full of major classes and Honors electives so that language classes don’t fit or aren’t offered that school year altogether, what can be done to fix that problem?

The lack of space in Honors students’ schedules applies to more than just language courses. The Department of Global Languages, Literatures and Perspectives offers much more than straight language courses. The department also teaches, for example, classes in literature from different parts of the world, centered around a theme such as a particular time period or social topic. Are these courses cross-listed, as a variety of courses from most other disciplines are, with Honors courses to make them better available to students in the Honors program? No.

Courses from the Department of Global Languages, Literatures and Perspectives have not, at least in the past four years, been offered as Honors electives. Allowing cross-listing between the Global Languages electives and Honors electives will bring more students into these electives as Honors students would be able to take classes that would be very difficult for them to find space for otherwise. In addition, by taking Honors electives through the Global Languages Department, Honors students might then find an interest they wouldn’t have tapped into otherwise, and come back to the department to take foreign language courses.

Here’s another suggestion: reduce the minimum student requirement for foreign language classes. Changing these requirements might seem like a Band-Aid solution — sure, the seven students who want to take French 101 this year can take it, but that doesn’t change the fact that some of them are going to graduate, and a couple more won’t be able to put it into their schedules next year, and if a class can’t run at the 100 level, then there’s almost no way it’ll work at the 200 level (barring the reinstatement of the placement test, which could show enough students who test into higher levels).

I’m not saying a class should exist if only two people want to take it, but the professors teaching these language classes should be able to give input on what the minimum number of students in a class should be for it to make sense to hold it. Language involves dialogue and it helps to learn a language with others — but how many others? Would four students in a class be enough for some language courses? Six? Should it really be 10? That should be up to the professors of these classes to decide, as they know the dynamics of teaching a foreign language to a group.

Allowing smaller language classes also helps fulfill the requirements for certain majors — for example, the course requirements for the IR major. By allowing smaller classes to run, those four required language classes could be all within the same language.

But, as it stands, IR just requires four courses of a language. But let’s say you come in undecided and make that your major sophomore year, or you pick it up as a second major sometime after your freshman year. You want to learn German to meet the IR language requirement, but the intro classes are only offered every other year, and it’ll be next year before it happens again. Now you’re stuck with a choice — take a language you’re not as interested in to try to get four semesters of the same language and have some sort of proficiency in it, or take two semesters of something else now and take two semesters of German next year. It still fulfills the IR requirements, but it doesn’t really mean you’ll have a high level of ability in those languages and therefore doesn’t fulfill the point of having the language requirement in an IR major.

Allowing smaller language classes to run could also increase the likelihood that more students want to take those classes in the future as word of mouth and free advertising follows — I told all my friends, foes and other companions they should be taking Russian if they could. Adding the ability to get a minor in these other languages could also increase enrollment in these less-offered languages. It’s true that the skills you gain from studying a language don’t depend on if your official transcript lists them as a minor  — if you can speak Italian, you can speak Italian, irrespective of if you officially have a “real” minor in Italian or not — but the fact that it’s impossible to minor in any language besides Spanish is pretty disheartening.

One of my friends said that, although they took a language in high school and considered continuing it here, they’d rather take six courses from a program that would show up on their transcript, not six courses in one that wouldn’t. Another friend explained that “I really wanted to take Italian, but didn’t because I couldn’t minor in it.” Adding minors in these other languages would show that La Salle is committed to helping students learn a foreign language.

This last point is particularly important, as a quick search of some other universities in the area (Temple, St. Joe’s, Drexel and UPenn) reveals that Temple offers majors and minors in German Language and Cultural Studies, Chinese, French, Italian and Spanish, and minors in Portuguese and Arabic. St. Joes has majors and minors in Italian and Spanish, a major in Francophone Studies, and minors in Chinese Language and Culture and German. Drexel provides minors in Arabic, French, Italian Studies, Japanese and Spanish. UPenn has majors and minors in Chinese and Japanese, majors in French and Francophone Studies, Russian and East European Studies, Italian Studies and German and a minor in Korean. By only offering a major and minor in Spanish, La Salle is not nearly as appealing to incoming students who want to study other languages.

Here’s another possible solution, one that would probably take a lot of logistical legwork to figure out and a lot of paperwork to implement, but would certainly have far-reaching and long-term benefits: a foreign language requirement for most, if not all, majors.

It would be difficult to find a field of study that would not benefit from knowledge of a foreign language. A case can be made for adding a foreign language requirement to just about any major offered at La Salle, some easier to justify than others — international business, for some reason, does not have a foreign language requirement despite having ‘international’ in the name itself — and it’s pretty easy to emphasize the increased job and research prospects that would come along with speaking another language if your major is something else business-related, or political science, or history. But why should a biology major learn another language? If you’re studying math, what’s the point of taking language classes?

An alumnus of La Salle’s Global Language Department explained it like this:

“In the sciences, there was a period when mathematics and chemistry majors had to take a second language, as did biology majors who were not medical school bound. Why? To advance in their careers, mathematicians and scientists needed to be able to keep abreast of the most recent research, which included that done outside of the U.S., much of which was not translated into English. The same logic also applied to other fields as well. Those seeking advanced degrees in economics, political science and sociology who wanted to go to a top-tier graduate program needed proficiency in a second language to complete their M.A. and/or Ph.D. requirements.”

“We need to re-look our position on foreign languages,” they continued, “not simply because they open otherwise closed doors to careers, but more because not allowing students to take the courses in the languages they choose hurts the students’ prospects for succeeding in graduate schools as well. Most reputable graduate programs require their M.A. and Ph.D. candidates to pass a proficiency exam in a language other than English.”

Another alumna, Bianca Abbate, ’21, echoed these statements. “The importance of foreign language education cannot be understated,” she explained, “knowing foreign languages is not an accessory. It’s a practical and marketable skill that opens doors for people. La Salle does a disservice to its students when it fails to recognize that.”

I don’t think the provost, dean, admissions department, registrar, Honors Program or any other department or office at this university is malicious or actively working against students as they try to learn a foreign language. I doubt some of them even know all the different layers to these situations. But I do think that the changes that should be made need to be initiated by these groups. There are a lot of issues, complications and poorly-handled situations at play here, but there are a lot of solutions to them, too. 

La Salle University: you want your students to be outward-looking, global citizens, who work with and for others to fight injustice and improve the world. Foreign language skills are an invaluable aid in pursuing these goals — make the study of foreign languages possible.

La Salle’s new menstrual product pilot program


Kylie McGovern, Editor 

Isabelle Pope poses with the feminine hygiene products in the Union

On Feb. 16 La Salle University’s Students Government Association (SGA), Residence Life Association and All Women Every Color (AWEC) teamed up to announce a feminine hygiene initiative to provide tampons, pads and panty liners to students and faculty at La Salle University funded by the campus activity fund. @Lasallesga posted a video on Instagram to launch the menstrual product pilot program making period products available in St. Kat’s and the Union for women on campus, but also for any student regardless of their gender by having some baskets outside of the restrooms as well. Isabelle Pope, the president of SGA; Jua Brooks, co-founder and co-president of AWEC and Acie Barry, co-founder and co-president of AWEC explained the initiative via this Instagram video. This initiative has been in the works since 2019 and today the three organizations came together to announce their progress. SGA encourages anyone to reach out to them with any question as well as using the QR codes next to the products to provide feedback. This initiative will continue for the rest of the semester and if successful this program will likely continue in the future. 

In 2021, bills related to period equity were introduced in 37 states, according to Women’s Voices For The Earth, a nonprofit advocacy group. However, only five states require schools to provide menstrual products. Recently, California became the latest state to mandate that public schools and colleges stock free pads, tampons and other products in their restrooms. Therefore, this initiative at a private and small school like La Salle is a triumph for adequate menstrual product access. 

Barry explains that AWEC is “an organization founded by myself and Jua that is intended to be a safe space for women of color and allies alike on campus to join together and have important conversations. We are dedicated to creating social bonds within our organization and other organizations on campus all whilst also engaging in philanthropic efforts within the local community. We partnered with La Salle SAVE and hosted a hygiene product drive where we collected various items such as pads, tampons, razors, body wash, etc. and will be donating to a local organization called Women Against Abuse. Since the beginning of last semester, we have been researching period poverty amongst students and working with SGA and RSA to make menstrual products free and accessible to more students on campus. The pilot program started today and will run through the course of the year. Hopefully, if everything goes well, they will be in the majority of bathrooms across campus next year.”

In addition, Pope explained that originally, the proposal was supposed to be to get better dispensers in all of the women’s restrooms. The university explained that this was logistically difficult and expensive because matentience would have to be involved. So, baskets with free products seem easier and faster. The project began primarily with SGA in 2019 and 2020. But, by the end of 2021, the process was tough because of COVID-19 and funding issues. However, things began to look up when Pope joined as a member of AWEC and AWEC discussed access to feminine hygiene products. Pope made a connection between the two projects. The partnership made the entire project much faster, and Pope calls the collaboration a “huge learning experience.” She looks forward to cultivating better relationships with all the clubs on campus. 

Campus COVID-19 Update


Kylie McGovern, Editor  

La Salle University student wearing a mask on campus

On Jan. 5, La Salle University released an update on COVID-19 and the spring semester. This notice included information about a booster requirement, updating vaccine information, testing, masking and student programming. Regarding the vaccine, La Salle University is requiring all members of the campus community receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose within 30 days of eligibility to minimize the number of community members who may become infected or need to quarantine because of exposure. Those who are vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 will have more flexibility with quarantine and isolation protocols per newest CDC guidance. Some members of the La Salle community already have an approved exemption on file with the University and will continue to be exempt, but unvaccinated individuals must either double-mask or wear a KN95 mask while indoors per The Philadelphia Department of Public Health. La Salle University has created a deadline and community members must receive a COVID-19 booster shot and submit verification to the University by Tuesday, Feb. 15.

In addition, Once a member of the La Salle community has received the COVID-19 vaccine and/or booster, students and employees must update their vaccination records on file with the University. In addition, for non-residential students and employees, entry testing is available and strongly encouraged. Testing is available at no expense and without an appointment. In addition to residential student entry testing, The Treetops Café testing center has expanded the hours of operation. 

In addition, unvaccinated individuals are required to complete weekly testing. Students who do not comply with testing requirements will face disciplinary action through Student Conduct. Failure to comply with one test will result in a temporary restriction to campus. Failure to comply with two or more tests will result in suspension. Faculty or staff who do not comply with testing requirements will face disciplinary action through HR with action up to termination. However, there was a 95% vaccination rate as of Dec. 15, so only a small percentage of the community needs to adhere to this testing. 

Furthermore, masks continue to be a requirement in all indoor settings on La Salle’s campus. Since the omicron variant is more transmissible than previous variants, La Salle University recommends surgical-grade masks and KN95 masks. The University has a supply of surgical, N95, KN95, and University-branded cloth masks that are available to students and employees. Limited quantities of each supply can be obtained at the on-campus testing center at Treetops Café as well as in each residence hall security desk reception area and Union Information Desk. 

As for in-person extracurricular activities, student Organization Programs and Meetings will need to be virtual through the end of February. Student organizations are encouraged to wait on hosting in-person events until after February, after a review of the institutional positivity rate has been conducted. However, the university has identified some Office-led events to host in-person to provide some limited safe interaction, and student organizations will be permitted to table in the Student Union Lobby. Overall, with the week of in-person classes, La Salle is operating to best facilitate in-person learning while mitigating the risks of COVID-19. 

Homecoming and parents’ weekend should not be at the same time


Enrique Carrasco, Editor

It happens too often: you’re hanging out in an alleyway with a drink in your hand when you look over and see two parents looking at you… judging you. It happened to several of my roommates, and several of my friends, and if I had drank this weekend, it definitely would have happened to me.  Homecoming is a time full of mistakes, bad decisions, and way too much alcohol for our upperclassmen. Parents’ weekend is all about family, being in communion with them, and enjoying their presence. As you can imagine, these two events do not go hand in hand. Yet for whatever reason, the school thinks it’s a really good idea to host both events at the same exact time. I am a strong advocate for the idea that parents’ weekend should not only be on a different weekend, but it should also be earlier in the semester.

I had been planning for this homecoming ever since I first heard of it, and my drunken plans should not be interrupted by some freshmen parents who have not seen their kid in a month. It happened to my friend, we’ll call him James, on homecoming. James had consumed copious amounts of alcohol before 2 p.m., and James was looking to continue the party before the basketball game started. Yet, while we were hanging out at our friend’s townhouse, their parents arrived. Not only did James have to stop drinking, but he had to sober up enough to talk to these very religious parents. As you can imagine, James did not leave a good impression on the parents, who were constantly giving him dirty looks just for being intoxicated. I believe it is not fair for James, who is a college student, to have to change his plans because some parents are here. Not only that, but James had plans to visit the countryside of Pennsylvania with this friend and their parents in the upcoming week, and the impression that drunk James made is less than ideal.

To fix this problem, I propose the school changes parents’ weekend to earlier in the semester (before Halloweekend would be ideal), to allow parents to visit their kids and see campus when 90 percent of the student body is not intoxicated in one way or another. The earlier the school pushes parents’ weekend, the better, as this change is sure to leave a better impression on the parents, who pay for their kids to be here. This, in turn, is likely to increase the number of students enrolling in the school, as parents’ impression of La Salle would be what La Salle normally is (a beautiful tranquil campus, with students frolicking around the quad) rather than intoxicated college students making a mess in an alleyway.  I know for a fact that I am not the only person on campus who believes that parents’ weekend should not be intertwined with homecoming, and various students (including James) agree with me on this one. 

New Collegian Podcast 


Header Image: Search Engine Journal 

Kylie McGovern, Editor

On Oct. 29, David O’Brien, ‘24 began spearheading a podcast project by meeting with communication Professor Dr. Mark Lashley about using the WEXP radio room to record podcasts. Throughout the past school year, the Collegian staff has been brainstorming a podcast component of the weekly newspaper. O’Brien’s vision for the podcast is for it to be an extension of the newspaper and discuss topics from the newspaper, ranging from business to features. The podcast will also have a similar function as the features section of the newspaper where the hosts will bring guests and discuss clubs, topics and other aspects of La Salle and the student in general. 

According to the podcast host, “a podcast is a series of spoken word, audio episodes, all focused on a particular topic or theme… You can subscribe to the show with an app on your phone and listen to episodes whenever you like on your headphones, in the car or through speakers.” The Infinite Dial conducted a survey exhibiting that 55 percent of the U.S. population had listened to a podcast ever; 37 percent had listened within the last month and 24 percent had listened within the last week, showing that podcasts are a form of media rapidly rising in popularity. Podcasts growing as a media industry are motivating O’Brien to start the podcast. 

In speaking with O’Brien, he explains, “I am so excited about starting the podcast with one of my best friends. I am doing the podcast because I am interested in pioneering something to make an impact as the managing editor. I want the Collegian to be adaptable to more formats in addition to our website and newsletter. I think the longevity of any student organization or publication is fluidity and adaptability. I know that podcasts are especially popular among college-aged people, and I think that the La Salle student body will not only benefit from getting news and interviews via a podcast, but will also be entertained by this new platform.” 

The podcast team hopes to record, edit and post the podcast in the coming weeks. After the first introduction episode, O’Brien plans to post the following episodes when the newspaper is published. 

What I wish I knew as a freshman


Bianca Abbate, Editor-in-Chief

As graduation looms, I think back to my freshman self, partly with embarrassment and partly with nostalgia. I think back to the Eagles’ Super Bowl win. I also think back to the death of a classmate. I found myself in countless unprecedented situations and yet, here I am. When I was a freshman, I had the privilege of being surrounded by upperclassmen and professors whose mentorship enabled me to thrive in college. With an almost entirely virtual college experience, this year’s freshman class may not be so lucky. To the class of 2024, I may never meet you, but I see your struggle and I hope the advice to follow can guide your college experience as it did mine.

Never be a Jack of All Trades; be a Master of One. What makes a great student? We know it’s more than grades; it’s also extracurriculars (among a host of other attributes). I was that student in high school who wanted to be involved in everything: sports, theater, student government, etc. I thought that doing well in these endeavours was enough to land me a spot in an ivy league school. It wasn’t. Truth be told, I may have done well in these activities, but all I really needed was to be the best at one of them. In college, I took a different approach by involving myself in fewer extracurriculars. There were three things to which I wanted to dedicate my time: the newspaper, my Russian studies and mock trial. Though — like for many anxious overachievers — the idea that I could be doing more loomed, I no longer wanted to be a member of every club; I wanted to be the president of one. Diverting all of my energy into these areas enabled me to excel in these endeavours. I wrote consistently for the paper my freshman year, took over the commentary section sophomore year, assumed the managing editor role my junior year and finally became the editor-in-chief my senior year. The time and dedication that the editors and I have put into the Collegian has brought us a great deal of opportunities, new connections and pride. When I immersed myself in my Russian studies, I ultimately earned a State Department scholarship which landed me in Russia for a summer. For these reasons, people associate me with the paper and with Russia, and I have assumed that identity for my own professional development. An important piece of advice I would have for freshmen is to make a name for yourself in one big way: be the student who does one thing and does it exceptionally well.

Quit things. Of course, in order to have a niche, one must find it. This will require a great deal of trial and error. If you would believe it, I was once a D1 athlete (well, for a couple months) in my college days. My freshman year, when I saw that the rowing team was recruiting members, I walked onto the team bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The 5 a.m. practices and hours on the erg machines were a valiant challenge at first, but it was not long until I was so exhausted from my morning practices that I would skip classes later in the day. I was drained emotionally and physically from the commitment of being an athlete, but I was reluctant to quit because I thought it made me a weak person. Nonetheless, a tragic event in the university community brought me to my senses. I put aside my ego and ultimately abandoned the D1 lifestyle. Not everyone was supportive. An assistant coach at the time even texted me to tell me that “people were right about me.” That’s the thing, though; many people fear quitting because of what others will think about them. What is more valuable to you: your time, energy and sanity or the opinion of others? I chose the former every time. Never feel stuck in a college activity. At the end of the day, it’s a college activity. One of the thrills of adulthood is the freedom to choose one’s own path. If your current path is not serving you, ditch it.

Be your own advocate. Many barriers which seem to exist between students and professors and between students and the University are not actually there. Coming into college, we think that, if we get a bad grade on an assignment, we get a bad grade. We think that, if the University bills us a fee, we pay the fee. What they don’t want you to know (well at least one of those groups) is that there are nuances in this little system of ours and that, in order to get what we want from our college experience, we need to find the loopholes. We must be our own advocates. Grades and deadlines are not as final as one may think. The biggest tool one has in succeeding in college is using his voice. Communicate with your professor. So many times have I reached out to my professors to explain why my life situation may be affecting my coursework at that time. Almost every time the professor has been understanding in those situations. In other situations, I email the professor before the semester even starts: “Look, I want to give my best effort in this class, but this semester, I am working full-time and may not be able to give my 100 percent every class.” I have also said things like, “I will be applying to law school in the future and I want my transcript to be competitive. What are some things I can do to achieve an A in this course?” It speaks to one’s character and seriousness as a student to be able to communicate openly about their needs and capabilities. Keep it real with your professors, and they will return the respect. The University too is more accessible than people think. Sending an email or making a call to voice one’s concerns goes longer than a student may think. Many times, he will be able to get out of that one parking ticket or avoid that late fee by simply leveling with another human. Speak up for yourself and don’t be afraid to give some pushback. After all, you are the consumer.

Your college years will flash before your very eyes. Everyone will tell you that. Not everyone will tell you that it takes a bit of finesse and grit to actually be successful in that short amount of time. The aforementioned pieces of advice have served me well in my time on Broad and Olney, and yet there are a million more tidbits I could share. Put yourself out there. Be unconventional. Make a name for yourself. When you leave, do your alma mater proud. But most importantly, write for your favorite student publication, the Collegian.