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Editor in Chief and President

MAY 08, 2014

It’s traditional for the Daily Cal’s outgoing editor in chief and president to write a farewell column. The purpose of that column is to make some kind of book-ending statement about what it’s been like to lead this paper, or go to this school, or live in this city, or be this person. That tradition weighs heavily on me now.

As is the case with most of the people who have worked here for a significant portion of four years, the Daily Cal has been the center of my world in college. And because this will probably be the very last thing I write for the Daily Cal, this column has been difficult for me to start. There are too many things I want to do here.

On the one hand, I want to tell you about how first the Daily Cal rejected me; how later they  accepted me; how before I joined, I was too afraid to even order food over the phone; how my first assignment for the paper resolved that fear. I want to tell you about the night I spent circling the blocks surrounding a blazing building on Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street in wet moccasins with all my friends.

I also want to explain — for both of us, you and me — why it was I ended up sticking with the Daily Cal for so long. I want to figure out why,  in the spring of sophomore year after finishing up a very difficult first semester as an editor, I didn’t follow my best friend’s advice and quit the paper altogether, didn’t move on to a more inclusive, less demanding set of extracurriculars and friends.

I want to tell you about what happened when I decided not to quit, about the semester I spent sitting next to my best friends for 12 hours a day, six days a week, trying to inspire reporters, craft interesting narratives and avoid allowing my GPA to slip into a too much of a free-fall.

I want to remember what it felt like to stand in front of the staff I had just been elected to lead and promise I would do my best to provide them with the kind of experience I had, the terrifying, empowering, if-it-is-to-be-done-you-must-do-it-yourself philosophy of scrappiness. I want you to know what it felt like when exactly a year later, they stood to applaud me on my way out, and I felt like maybe I had accomplished some of what I set out to do.

But I don’t want to forget about the bad parts either. I also want to tell you about how hard this job has been — how tough it can be to have a constant, never-ending schedule with no set hours and the possibility of disaster at any moment, how terrified I became of getting late-night phone calls. I don’t want to forget how individually daunting many of the days (and months!) in my square, windowless office have felt. I will never forget the semester I slept too little and ended up with a cough that lasted for three months (and still comes back when it’s cold!) and the fact that there has never been a single day in four years that I left the Daily Cal office earlier than I anticipated.

And probably most importantly, I want to remember what was in between all of those things. I always want to be able to call up the mental perseverance I’ve built through the unending hours here and the knowledge that if a decision needs to be made, I can be the one to make it. I want to remember that when I make those decisions, I can rely on the perspectives I have been exposed to here and the ability to seek out new perspectives that the Daily Cal has taught me.

So thanks, Daily Cal, for these four years. Thanks for everything.


In particular, thanks to:

Addie Baxter, Amruta Trivedi, Weiru Fang, Anjuli Sastry and Damian Ortellado, my newsie crew and the group that brought me into this place and made it worth staying.

Sara Grossman and Afsana Afzal, for inspiring me as an editor and being some of my best friends.

All of the senior editorial boards I’ve sat on, for challenging me.

George Syrop, for making things at the Daily Cal feel mutable.

Seung Lee, for making me rethink the Internet.

J.D. Morris, for being the best decision-making partner I could have asked for.

Neutral Milk Hotel and Death Cab for Cutie, for sounding perfect on my office computer’s speakers.

Gautham Thomas, for listening patiently to blow-by-blow recaps of what happened at the Daily Cal every night.

And my family, for loving me the whole time.

Sarah Burns was the 2013-2014 editor in chief and president. She joined the Daily Cal in spring 2011 as a news reporter before being the assistant city news editor in spring 2012, the university news editor in fall 2012 and an opinion columnist in spring 2013. She is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English.

MAY 08, 2014