Embrace Hopkins, but also pressure it to change its ways

By JACQUI NEBER | April 26, 2018

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COURTESY OF JACQUI NEBER

The Gatehouse and The News-Letter have been the author’s home for four years at Hopkins.

Eight months ago, I wrote an article from the perspective of a senior who still had eight months left at this school and at this newspaper. I don’t anymore. It’s time to say goodbye.

That The News-Letter has given me everything and more is no secret. It’s been my home for all four years of college, starting with that first news meeting of freshman year, standing in the open doorway of the Gatehouse, volunteering to take an article about the new Marketing minor Hopkins would soon offer. It’s given me a family. It’s given me a home. It has, more infamously, given me a place to be until the crack of dawn every Wednesday night since I started training to be a news editor.

Writing a last article seemed like a far away eventuality even this year. As we moved through fall and into spring, it still seemed like I would never reach this precipice. I would never have to write the actual last piece. I would never have to leave. 

But there are some precipices you just can’t walk away from, and graduation is one of them. It looms over us especially now, with less than a month to go before we put on those black polyester caps and gowns and step into the sunshine of life after Hopkins. Being this close to graduation has pushed me to reflect on this newspaper and this school, and I have some final thoughts to write down before I go.

My last opinion is that no one should take this school for granted — but no one can let Hopkins get away with anything, either. 

I’ve written a lot about our inferiority complexes and major shaming and other negative school culture trends. I’ve gotten good at recognizing the sentiments we don’t talk about enough and bringing them up in the hopes of starting a conversation. Whether my efforts in that regard have led to us talking about them more is unclear and doesn’t matter. If you’re still here next year, you need to continue talking about what matters. 

Actually, don’t just talk about it. Act on it. Put pressure on what needs to change.

I’ve already seen a huge increase in student activism since starting here in 2014, marked by my first night as a news editor covering the Baltimore uprising in April 2015. That activism needs to grow stronger moving forward. It’s more than possible — I’ve seen how student action has changed the course of divestment, the private police force, and the Roadmap on Diversity and Inclusion on campus, to mention just a few causes. I’ve seen how we can alter everything. 

Our action is the only way anything will change for the better around here, so don’t let Hopkins get anyway with anything. If you’re unhappy, say something and make a plan to do something collectively. This works as advice at Hopkins and beyond. 

Watching other students speak up in various ways through many mediums has inspired me to raise my voice. Even if you’re not necessarily bringing up sentiment in response to an event or policy, bring it up anyway. The passion on this campus can compete solidly with the apathy but only if you let it.

And as much as you have to hold Hopkins accountable, also remember to enjoy your time here. Don’t take the opportunities this school can provide for granted. Don’t take for granted your friends, professors, classes and extracurriculars. Hopkins can break you down, but it’ll give back what you put in tenfold. 

I am who I am because of this school. I might’ve just gotten lucky. But give it a chance to do the same for you as you navigate through all four years.

I might write the above lessons in a farewell address in any newspaper at any college. But Hopkins is special — its students are passionate, vocal and particularly good advocates for their community. We are also surprisingly good at adapting to this challenging, potentially discouraging environment and using our places of privilege here to focus on others. Hopkins has its flaws — and a lot of them — but perhaps the most satisfying college experience comes from making this environment work for you and using the work you need to put in here as a chance to grow and help.

I don’t want to leave. This is different than graduating from high school, where all I wanted to do was get up and get out. This really feels like I’m about to leave home, The News-Letter being an undeniably large part of that home.

To the Gatehouse, I’ll miss you terribly. To the long nights and Swedish Fish 7-Eleven runs, I’ll cherish you always. To the walks home along N. Charles against the birds chirping, I’ve memorized the way you sound. To the fellow editors who have made this newspaper home, I’ll never forget you (and I’ll text you this summer). To my career as a student journalist, I want to say thanks. 

There will always be editorials to write and news to cover and lacrosse games to report on and Baltimore artists to review. There will always be Wednesday production nights to work through and savor. There will always be students and community members who need an organization to give them a voice. Don’t take Hopkins for granted, and don’t forget The News-Letter either. It’s something special. It’s a good thing that, for me, is coming to an end.

Jacqui Neber is a senior Writing Seminars major from Northport, N.Y. She is the Opinions Editor.

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