Print Edition: July 18, 2012
Let me start by admitting that I have mixed feelings about the newspaper issue you hold in your hands.
From one perspective it is a triumph of endurance, reporting, hard work and no small amount of caffeine.
From another, it is a conclusion – not only to The Cascade’s publication for the summer semester and thus an academic year, but also to my term as its editor-in-chief.
I’ve been allowed more than my share of self-indulgence in this space over the course of the year, yet I ask your forgiveness one final time. One of the wonderful things about a campus newspaper is that it doesn’t have to fit a certain model or conform to a specific image, and consequently it can embrace a range of perspectives and topics wider than most comparable publications. The secret to successfully embodying this description (as I’ve discovered in the past year) is to build a team which itself fails to conform to a certain model or specific image – a team with individuals coming from and embracing a wide variety of perspectives on a number of topics.
Some might say that this sounds like a recipe for conflict, rather than a functioning newspaper, and it is, or rather it is both. Anytime you gather the variety we have here at The Cascade into a room and initiate a project there is going to be conflict – the real question is whether it will degenerate into hair-pulling and name-calling or aspire to actual cooperation. This isn’t meant to be a glut of self-congratulating drivel simply because over the past year we’ve avoided causing each other bodily harm (we’re all adults we should be able to get along). But there are lessons I have learned along the way, and several of them I’d like to share with you.
Lesson 1: People who don’t agree with you aren’t always idiots.
It’s easy to validate my opinion by demeaning someone else’s. It’s quick, it’s extreme and it’s safer for my ego than confronting their argument head on. But the truth is, making fun of an opinion for being conservative or liberal, or originating in a certain religious or ethnic community has nothing to do with the validity of that opinion or the person behind it.
Most people in life are going to be at least as intelligent as you or I, and that means you and I should deal with them in useful, intelligent ways. It’s not as easy (or personally satisfying) as assuming they are morons, but it will get you farther in the world.
Lesson 2: Tolerance is not a long-term solution.
I’ve often been told that university is about tolerance, and I’ve preached about tolerance in my editorials before, but what I’ve come to realize is that tolerance is an arms-length word which works best with little contact between the idea and the reality. We Cascaders would not be able to spend 12 hours together trying to produce a newspaper every Tuesday if we were merely “tolerant” of each other. We have had—to greater or lesser degrees—confront issues, dialogue on them, and learn to resolve conflict. Through this we’ve been forced to build actual relationships, even become friends, which greatly decreased the amount of time we’ve had to spend “tolerating” each other.
Tolerance is the reason Westboro baptists are allowed to picket funerals, it is not the foundation of a productive, thriving community.
Lesson 3: Religion has a place in university
Many people consider university to be the graveyard of religious conviction, and perhaps, for some, it is the swapping of one devotion for another. Yet, if there is one essential thing I have learned over the past year, it is that with the university experience comes a multitude of circumstances and decisions which no university classroom will prepare you for. In any community workplace, it quickly becomes apparent that personal ethics are at least as important as personal skill, and I have yet to find a secular system of ethics that demands (or justifies the demand for) truth, individual respect, love and compassion found within Christianity. In learning what I needed to embrace I also learned what I needed to hang on to, and affirmed that religion and university are not incompatible. The answers are out there, and a spiritual perspective is too important to lose.
Build an organization built upon spiritual values and staffed by competent individuals and you will create a functioning, healthy community. Build one around ruthless—albeit supremely skilled—individuals and they will succeed only in tearing each other apart.
Lesson 4: UFV is a wonderful place
I’ve interviewed a lot of interesting people at UFV in the last year, from the University president himself to members of the janitorial staff, and I’ve been astounded at all levels by the cooperation, the enthusiasm and the integrity. When I talk to my friends from different institutions who describe their classes of 300 students, their absent professors and the labyrinthine bureaucracy, I thank my lucky stars that I go to UFV. Of course there are hiccups, funding crunches and waitlist problems, but there is also a talented team of faculty and staff working to make this institution an educational and memorable experience. Thank you Mr. Evered and everyone else at UFV for making this institution what it is.