We learn from our mistakes and move forward

Humor is hard. When done right, it can lift us out of poor spirits, bring us together, and most importantly, make us laugh. When done poorly, however, humor has the ability to hit us where it hurts the most. The latter is something many of us have experienced after last week’s release of the Joke Issue of the Echo. While some members of the campus chuckled at the articles, ads, and Bango, others were deeply hurt by our words. There are some parts of the Joke Issue that I remain proud of; they successfully acted as satirical reflections on the Colby campus. However, other parts of this year’s Joke Issue missed the mark entirely, and I acknowledge that.

Joke Issue night in the Echo office is a bit different than normal layout nights, as the staff treats it as the one week off of the whole year of layout in which we can relax a bit and just write some funny articles. On Joke Issue night, the Executive Board (the Editors-in-Chief and the Managing Editor) is less hands on when it comes to what goes into the issue. For this reason, I had a broad idea of what most of the articles would cover, but I did not read most of the articles before they went to print, including the article regarding Womens’ Rugby. I certainly regret this now, as I feel as if I could have prevented some hurt from occurring if I had read every single word that was to be published. We are already working on putting structures in place for next year, such as a more rigorous editing process and a Code of Ethics in order to make sure the issue is more thoughtful, and takes into account the experiences those on our campus are undergoing at any given time.

A wise professor and comedy scholar recently pointed out to me that there is a difference between satire and mockery. While we originally thought that what we were producing was satire, some of the issue turned into mockery, and this is a fact that we—I—must own up to. Mockery is unacceptable on this campus, as well as anywhere else, and the fact that a product that my name is so closely tied to resorted to mockery is disappointing—it was not what I intended.

I would like to apologize for letting this issue come out. While I didn’t read all of the articles—or even most of the issue—before the issue went to print, I should have. I apologize for not being more responsible for my work. I apologize for printing words that were deeply hurtful to members of my community. I apologize for insulting the identity of students and faculty in our community, and I apologize for publishing jokes about topics that are personal, difficult, and painful for some of our campus population. I apologize for ignoring the systemic violence that is occurring on our campus and making light of this violence in the Echo. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I deeply apologize to all for not representing the Colby community in its entirety. The story that this edition of the Echo told is not representative of our community and I apologize to those who were misrepresented. 

However, apologies in print can only go so far. What’s just as important for me to express—in addition to apologies—is that while this experience has been difficult and painful for me, as well as so many others, it has also been an opportunity for learning and understanding. From this experience, I have learned how to truly listen to and hear others before responding. I have learned how to express my thoughts in authentic and genuine ways and stand up for myself and for what I believe in. On a less personal level, I have learned that in an environment such as the Echo, we must continuously do deep cultural readings of our campus as well as our greater community and re-evaluate our actions. We must create a more diverse, well-rounded staff in order to obtain a plethora of perspectives and thoughts; by taking these steps, we will do better.

Not knowing better is not good enough, nor is it an excuse for what happened. We are intelligent students at a top-ranking institution and we are a group of good journalists. We as a group should have known better, and that is not an excuse. This entire experience has been a humbling one, and I want to thank everyone—my friends, colleagues, professors, and the Echo’s critics—for a willingness to stay in dialogue and continuing to educate us when it is needed most.