Thanking the opinion section


Jessa Glassman

For the duration of my time as a Wolverine, the opinion section has been my home. I’ve taken refuge in its presentation of unabashed student perspectives and found solace in its inky pages filled with impassioned beliefs. And now, this is the last time my byline and awkward picture will appear above the paragraphs I’m so used to carefully crafting. It would be a lie to say that doesn’t terrify me.

Upon graduation, I know I will reminisce about the quad’s sunny tables and the rambunctious library, but the place I will perhaps miss most is the top of A10. The blank space beckoned me to share whatever I was thinking, feeling or experiencing without boundaries (except wordcounts) each issue and every volume, and it felt like the keys to the kingdom. I credit the spot where these words appear  with making me the person I am today, and for that, I am so grateful.

Clueless and lost as I was as a middle schooler, I somehow found my way to “The Spectrum,” where I began my adventure with opinion writing by penning the ‘Center’ section of the political column ‘Left, Right, Center.’ Reading those pieces now, I can tell I was not yet firm in my beliefs and avoided tackling tougher questions, of which there were plenty, considering it was the 2016 election season. I was reserved, shy and still finding my voice, which is easily detectable in my early style. Despite this, what is just as discernible in the fragmented sentences and basic vocabulary that characterize these pieces is my brewing passion for writing.

Knowing that penning editorials fueled my intellectual fire, I branched out from just providing the center point of view on immigration and foreign policy. Perhaps most monumentally, I once wrote about the vital role of journalism, not knowing that my interest in the topic would only grow as I became a more outspoken and mature author who would ultimately be shaped by her beliefs regarding free speech, transparency and the power of writing.

Beginning again at the bottom of the journalistic totem pole sophomore year, I was drawn to the opinion section, where I blended into a group of witty, pensive students. The idea that Weiler would make such an impact on me never crossed my mind as I searched for a place on staff in my first few days, intimidated as ever by the senior editors.

Rapidly, peers became friends and the people I spent layout weekends with became an integral part of my high school experience: we forged memories, cracked jokes and even endured struggles.

Opinion writing became an important part of my life, not only because I enjoyed it or thrived on the experiences it gave me, but because its foundational ideals of free expression and critical analysis helped mold me into the confident, thoughtful and forthright individual I am proud to be today.

Without the experiences these pages gave me, I would undoubtedly be a different person, probably still meekly straddling the fence in my viewpoints like I did in middle school. While my vocabulary has grown and my understanding of syntax has improved since then, the most remarkable changes have been in my own thought process, boldness and outlook I am now proud to be someone who never backs down and has encouraged others to do the same through my writing.

Now, I owe this all to the outlet I was given, the people I met and the fact that every challenge I faced, no matter how hefty, was accompanied by an even larger burst of support and self-growth.

Now, as I finish my last “journal entry” in the space I credit with constructing much of my character, I hope that the next student who has something to say will courageously fill these few inches on the page and that they too find themselves inspired by the magic of candid self-expression through opinion writing.