Copy desk chief looks forward to using Oxford comma again

Kailey Thompson

Editor’s note: A 30 column is a chance for departing permanent staff to say farewell and reflect on their time spent in The Daily Texan’s basement office. The term comes from the old typesetting mark (-30-) to denote the end of a line. 

I’ve worked on dozens of issues of the Texan, but this is my first byline in its pages. That’s part of the deal when you work in copy. Our names aren’t published on what comes of the work we put in, but we get the satisfaction of knowing we can stand behind everything that comes through our department. And that’s always been enough.

Some people tell me I’m crazy for working a job that requires me to stay in a basement late into the night fact-checking, changing hyphens to en dashes and removing Oxford commas — even though most readers won’t notice the difference.

But here’s the thing: The other people in that office — even when it’s dangerously close to 2 a.m. — care just as much. All of the people I work with give the Texan their all, whether it’s their time, their energy and often both. We are more than 200 students creating a daily newspaper for people who don’t read newspapers anymore. But it’s always been enough.

The first time I went to the basement, it was to try out for copy and design. For all four of my tryout nights, Sarah Lanford was trying out beside me. I knew immediately she was one of the boldest women I’d ever met, and I knew I wanted her to be my best friend.

Almost a year later, I met Claire Smith when she joined the copy department and was running for editor-in-chief. I was moved just listening to her talk, because she was one of the smartest and most well-spoken women I’d ever met, and I knew I wanted her to be my best friend.

When I walked into the basement that first night, I had no idea how special my time here would be. I came to the Texan for the experience, but I stayed for the people.

I stayed for Sarah and Claire, my best friends, the strongest, smartest and most capable women I know. They teach me every day about the power of female friendships and how rewarding it is to let your walls down.

I stayed for Brett Donohoe, who taught me everything I know about how to be a copy desk chief. I could listen to him talk about linguistics (or Russia, or Cher, or “Broad City”) for hours. You are going to do so well in grad school.

I stayed for Walker Fountain, I stayed for Iliana Storch, and I stayed for Jack Mitts. I stayed for Jordan Rudner, and I stayed for my associates and my copy kittens. And I’m so glad I’ve stayed so long.

I’ve stayed because the Texan is my home, and it’s my family and these are my people. And they’ll always be enough.

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