Editor-in-chief leaves office with pride, gratitude

Claire Smith

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.

It took me two years to find my way into the Daily Texan basement. When I did, it seemed like the beginning of something important — and it was. I am so proud to have been a part of something like this.

Working for The Daily Texan was an honor. It was a battle. It was an adventure. When I was elected as editor-in-chief, I was humbled and inspired before I was overwhelmed. As editor-in-chief, I saw the best and worst of this campus. It wasn’t always easy or interesting. But even when it was hard, it was good. I loved it every day.

To my knowledge, there is no better sight on campus than that from my office’s window into the newsroom. The Daily Texan is a world unto itself. History is made in our basement every day, and we have the privilege of standing witness. As part of The Daily Texan, I was part of important moments. I was in the office the day marriage equality spread to all 50 states. I editorialized on campus carry, campus protests and campus tragedies. On these days and many others, the Texan made me feel important, privy to something greater than myself — a feeling that is so rare on a campus so large. But no event compares to the everyday joys I got to experience with my teachers and friends in the basement.

Brett Donohoe taught me that behind a strong and silent facade can lay a bottomless well of patience and compassion. Jack Mitts’ infectious smile and steady hand taught me to live joyfully in the monotony of normal days and make calls based on my principles — not my pressures. Amy Zhang taught me that a person’s leadership is only as good as the character behind it, but a person’s kindness and heart are greatest of all. Walker Fountain was the only person I trusted to help me redefine the Forum section, and he showed me how to be persistent until we got it right. The three editorial boards I had the honor to lead this year were constant examples to me of friendship, steadfastness and initiative. Peter taught me that it is better to listen and find someone’s path with them than to give instructions. Gerald taught me that management is an art. I didn’t know I could be as proud of something as I am of the opinion staff; I can’t wait to keep reading your work next year. And before Kailey and Sarah — my best friends, heroes and girl gang — I never knew that I could learn so much so fast about loving well, caring deeply and serving your friends faithfully through trials and triumphs.

I belonged to the people in the basement, and I am better for it. This column is for us. For what we shared in that basement and everything we conquered outside its doors. For every minute we were lucky enough to be a part of it.

It is hard to say goodbye to something that has been so good. In the past, as generations of Texan staffers came and went, semester after semester, I was sad to say goodbye but knew my view from the editor’s seat was the best in the house; I got to watch the Texan redefine itself again and again. Alexander, Cat and Jackie, it’s your turn now; I trust you to carry the Texan through its next chapters with my whole heart.

My friends, this is only the beginning. I look forward to the life of a reader. And as I make that walk up the basement steps for the last time, I will look on the University with new eyes, as a place of opportunity and growth, all thanks to the work done by the people downstairs.

Working for the Texan is the greatest thing I have ever done. I loved it every day.

Smith is a history, humanities, and Middle Eastern languages and cultures senior from Austin. Follow Smith on Twitter @claireseysmith.