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Tuesday, Feb 20, 2024

Reflections from The Desk

At the beginning of the spring semester of 2023, I began to regret agreeing to be the Fall 2023 Senior Opinions Editor. 

I was overwhelmed with my coursework at the time and, as a senior Feb, felt like I was racing against the ticking clock that counted down my final days at Middlebury. The last thing I wanted to do was continue to be ghosted via email by potential op-ed writers. The responsibility of coordinating the whole section felt daunting. The job, at the time, seemed to me like a pile of anxiety that I just couldn’t take on.

Yet, here I am.

I am writing this Notes from The Desk during my last week as the Senior Opinions Editor at The Campus. I write this to be published one week and two days before I move off of this campus and ski down with the class of 2023.5. I write this to say how incredibly grateful I am to have had this position, and to now have truly understood its importance.

I have read and edited op-eds I didn’t agree with, and yet, my whole job was to work with writers to make their arguments as strong as possible, no matter how I felt about the content. This position has allowed me to foster opportunities for members of the Middlebury community to speak their minds, something that I consider crucial to our campus. 

I used to see the Middlebury Campus as a vacuum. I didn’t always understand its reach or power. I kind of thought it circulated stories within our little college bubble. 

But I was so wrong.

The Middlebury Campus, and the stories it holds, not only touch all of us students, but also our parents, faculty, members of the greater community and all of their corresponding networks. The words that are expressed within the confines of this newspaper have an incredible impact, including on those with great power in our community. 

Op-eds may be submitted by anyone connected to the Middlebury community — a student, administrator, faculty member, alumni or town resident. The opinions section acts as a community forum of sorts, where pertinent issues or feelings may be raised for others’ consideration.

The Opinions section holds a unique role in its ability to highlight student voices. I am honored in my position to have amplified the voices of students and I don’t think this power should be taken lightly. 

So, in my last moments as an editor for The Campus, I am asking you all to not underestimate the power of your voice as a student, parent, faculty or community member. Together, we all make this campus the place that it is, and we can all make it what we want it to be — but that must come through open discussion, conversation and disagreement. 

I know that expressing opinions, especially via a public print and online newspaper, is nothing short of a nightmare for many, especially in today’s age of constant perception and judgment online. Truly, I get it. The idea of publicly sharing my opinion sometimes brings on bouts of anxiety I never anticipated over something as silly as choosing the right synonym for “good.” But, we can hold this fear while also knowing how much positive change can come from speaking your opinion, if you wish to.

You are allowed to speak your mind and you are allowed to change your mind. People change, people grow and people evolve. It is impossible to do that without first making mistakes. Creating opinions or listening to others’ is a way to grow and engage with the people and world around us. Op-eds allow us to open up conversations, not end them. 

It doesn’t matter how big or small the topic is; your opinion is significant. An op-ed could even be about your feelings on the new red carpets of the Johnson Memorial Building or expand to a larger campus-wide issue of the need for more extensive public transportation — if it feels right, and if it fits in 800–1000 words, The Campus would love to publish something that you feel strongly about and wish to share. 

So, although my Fall was more hectic than I would have hoped, that ticking clock is at its end. 

And this might be one of the more rewarding things that I’ve done in my years at Middlebury.

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Libby Scaperotta

Libby Scaperotta ’24 (she/her) is the Opinions Senior Editor. 

Libby is an Environmental Policy major and Geography minor. She enjoys photography, travel, and spending time outside with friends. Libby also works as a layout design editor for Middlebury Geographic.