Forum editor says goodbye to the basement

Janhavi Nemawarkar

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.

We all have our own story of how we first stumbled into The Daily Texan basement.

I remember being a small nervous freshman coming into the office for the first time to pitch column ideas to Claire, the editor-in-chief, for my tryout piece. The stairs to the office, which literally descended down into the darkness, intimidated me so much that I paced outside the entrance for 20 minutes. But finally, I braced myself and walked into a space where it seemed like everyone was very busy and very important. 

Now, I’ve been in the basement for over two years. I’ve done (nearly) every job within the Opinion department. I swan in and out of the basement, sunglasses on my head and coffee in my hands, pretending to be far more busy and important than I actually am.

And yet, I still sometimes feel like a small nervous freshman, in awe of the literal hundreds of students who work here. But working at the Texan in so many different capacities has challenged me to grow — as a writer and leader — more than anything else I’ve done so far in my college career. 

My relationship with the Texan has been public in the strangest way. For two weeks in each of the past two years, I’ve run campaigns to be the editor-in-chief of this newspaper. I’ve loudly proclaimed my love for the Texan to the student body twice over. Y’all get it by now. I think this is a really special place, where students who aren’t in Student Government or college councils have a unique ability to have their concerns heard by administrators.

It’s also a place that hasn’t been accessible to students of marginalized identities for a long time. But there are so many improvements constantly happening. I get so excited when I think about the innovation happening throughout the paper, led by students of color and allies. And I can’t wait for the next women of color editors-in-chief of the Daily Texan. It’s coming, I know. 

The Texan pulls you back in. Since I was hired, I came back every semester for over two years. I’ve worked through some of the lowest moments of my personal life. I’ve been publicly disappointed. I’ve cried in the bathroom, and in the alleyway behind the HSM building, during some particularly hard times.

But for the most part, the Texan has been a happy space for me. It’s always been filled with wonderful people, whom I owe so much to. 

Vik — I’m going to miss our last-minute Forum scrambles. Somehow, we always managed to pull together a page I was proud to put our names on — even if we always nearly gave Laura a heart attack in the process. Thank you for being the only one who I would dream of doing this weird, rewarding job with.

Alexander and Claire — y’all shaped me as a writer and leader. Alexander — I owe a lot of my growth as an editor to you. Unfortunately, you also got me hooked on em-dashes. Claire — I was so in awe of you when I first met you. That hasn’t changed. 

Liza — I’m so glad I met you, friend. You’re going to do so well next year, and I’m excited to see where you take the Texan. 

Laura — I’ve written and re-written this section so many times, because our relationship has always been the hardest to define. First: I admire you. You’ve done so much for this paper, and you’re one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. Second: I’m so grateful we’ve become friends this past year. You’re a lot weirder than I ever would have expected, and I have a lot of love for that. And third: I’ll see you soon! We’re not leaving each other (I’ll see you in Plan II neuroscience next semester!). I’m so excited to see how our friendship develops.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the legacy I wanted to leave at The Daily Texan, but in the meantime it made an indelible mark on me. I may no longer work in this basement, but I’m not leaving. Not really. 

Nemawarkar is a Plan II and government junior from  Austin.