Editor-in-chief goes mask-on

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Avery Conyngham | Daily Texan Staff

I’m going to be honest, I still don’t know what I’m doing.

When I joined the Texan as a columnist my first semester of freshman year, I’d stay up past midnight to see if my columns made it into the paper. None of them were very good, but being the young narcissist with self-esteem issues that I was, it felt amazing to pick up a paper and find myself in it.

There’s something special about the Texan, about being able to hold the physical proof that you’ve made something. The longer I’ve been here, the more amazing it’s been to pick up a paper and know that a team of 300 people, many basically living in the Texan basement, made something together.

I already miss that about this place. The basement may be dark and pretty damn ugly, but something about a global pandemic makes you forget the dim lighting and shocking lack of windows and remember the character, the passion and the energy of so many people working together to make something.

After failing upward over the course of a couple years, I found myself as editor-in-chief. While I can safely say the constant anxiety of the job has taken years off of my life, I am immensely proud of the work we did this year. From sexual misconduct to affordable housing to mental health and COVID-19, I have no regrets about using our platform to unapologetically fight for and with our peers.

To every activist and organizer I’ve talked to and worked with this year, I am grateful to share a campus with y’all. It is incredibly humbling to have worked with you and to have played any small part in the movements you have started.

To our columnists, who volunteered week after week to share their stories and ideas on our page, I’m so happy I was able to meet all of y’all. I can’t wait to see what you say and do next — if you need anything, you know how to find me.

To Alex, Lisa, Sara, Megan Menchaca, Kirsten, Barb, Leslie H. Waggener, Jason Lihuang and the entire copy desk (especially Connor Tolany), thank you for always making me excited to walk into the office. Oh, and Wills Layton — I promise I didn’t forget you this time.

Peter, I know we didn’t talk much, but thank you for listening to my anxieties throughout the year and recruiting me for your ping pong team. Gerald, I know we talked even less, but thank you for always supporting me and the work that we did this year. All of the actual adults on the third floor: Thank you for supporting everything we do in this basement.

To Laura, Tinu, Bella, Emily Vernon — even you, Liam — and all Opinion staff of yore, thank you for putting up with me and helping me find a home here on campus. I could not be happier to have worked with y’all — even you, Liam. To this year’s forum editors and illustrators, thank you for constantly working to make the page more interesting and more beautiful.

To everyone on the past three editorial boards, thank you for putting up with my idiosyncrasies — my wild swings between impulsive and introspective and my affinity for Chilean folk and swamp sounds included (my legendary office playlist linked here for the interested).

More than that, thank you for carrying the weight of our editorials and for everything you taught both me and our columnists. Thank you for making it worth coming into the office every day, for sharing in the stress of not knowing whether we’d have a page, and for making me laugh so much I wished the year wouldn’t end.

Abby and Sanika — you were here through it all. I can’t imagine why you came back semester after semester unless y’all both got a rush wondering if we’d fill the page every night. I sure as hell wouldn’t want me as a boss for that long. Abby, thank you for keeping me in check for 12 whole months. Sanika, thank you for always being there to share nervous looks with when shit inevitably hit the fan.

Angélica and Emily, thank you for coming back. Without your guidance, I’m not sure I would’ve made it through that fall semester. Angélica, for the sake of the world, please write more prose ASAP — we need it. Emily, skip three paragraphs for your part.

Abhirupa and Hannah, I will never not be upset that I didn’t get to hang out with y’all for a full semester. Abhirupa, thank you for explaining One Direction to me and for actually contributing to the quote wall. Hannah, thank you for never taking bullshit from anyone and for somehow taking pleasure in the most intense editing jobs. I can’t wait to see what y’all do next.

Liza, nobody has inspired me and genuinely intimidated me more during my time at UT than you. Your advice and mentorship — be it on editorials or some dating misadventure — has helped me grow tremendously as a person. I don’t know all 120 years of Daily Texan history, and frankly I don’t want to, but I know that nobody has done this job better than you. I hope I made you proud.

JT, you asshole, I never thought I’d have to see you again after all those high school speech tournaments. As frustrated as I am that I enjoy spending time with you all these years later, it will never cease to amaze me how someone just 22 years old is so profoundly in their mid-50s.

Emily, I know this isn’t the job you signed up for anymore, but I couldn’t have more faith in your ability to lead this paper through what are going to be difficult and uncertain times. With that being said — have fun. I can’t wait to see what you and your staff write this next year. As always, I’m only a phone call away.

I spent most of this job not knowing what I was doing. I really didn’t “know” until those precious few weeks before the pandemic. Thank you to everyone who trusted me, believed in me and made sure I didn’t burn this place down.

It’s been a good run. I’ll see y’all soon.

Buckner is a Plan II junior. He was the editor-in-chief.