May 24, 2018

LAPLACA | 3 a.m. Thoughts

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I have never written for The Sun until now. Since sophomore year, I have been a designer. When I went to the Sun info session, I had no idea what section I wanted to join. Truth be told, I thought the Design Department was a writing section about fashion and wrote it off (I know, I’m shaking my head too).

Four weeks later, I somehow was asked to design a front page — mind you, I had little to no design experience before The Sun, my major is ILR! The proud feeling of having your front page distributed around campus and watching students and staff pick it up and reading it is a feeling that has not gone away after designing for three years.

Something that I did not realize until recently was that The Sun has not only taught me how to design, but it’s taught me how to be a better manager. It has taught me how to confide in others to see a goal become reality, listen to all points of view before making critical decisions and be there for others when they are in a tough spot.

I have learned that in addition to providing daily news, sports, opinion and other content to the Cornell community, the Sun is an educational institution itself. At The Sun, anyone interested and willing to put in the work can learn how to be an objective journalist, opinionated columnist, photographer, video editor or designer. This openness is so unique on a campus where most organizations require lengthy applications with multiple rounds of interviews.

This collaborative environment that deemphasizes exclusivity and promotes learning is truly why The Sun shines. I strongly encourage anyone who has even the smallest inklings of interest in joining a department to do so, even if you are worried about being accepted by others, or fear failure, or have no freaking clue how you want to contribute.

This would not be a graduation column without ample space dedicated to thank yous so here goes:

To Jayne Zurek ’16 and Sami Briggs ’16, thank you for believing in me and teaching me everything there was to know about design. Jayne, I quite literally styled my editorship around how you operated during your tenure, sans placing unreleased Oreo flavors in the snack drawer, of course. You told me one time that the Design Department is much more powerful than you think and you were 150 percent right. Sami, your insistence of utilizing log lady and dictator promos has led me to include them on pages as often as I reasonably could throughout the years, and has caused quite a lot of grief amongst the staff and readers along the way.

To all of the editors on the 134th and 135th editorial boards that I have worked with, I’m sorry design can be annoying sometimes with our constant presentations, memos and page designs that sometimes do not live up to the ones conjured up in your imagination. I thank you for your patience, your kindness and your dedication to your sections, your staff and your readers.

To Schroeder (’74): your vast knowledge and experience was so important to me during my time at the Sun. I will miss bonding over historically and artistically significant architecture that you commonly displayed on desktop backgrounds at the office. Thanks for being a mentor and a friend.

Thank you Emma Williams ’19 and Megan Roche ’19 for riding this roller coaster ride with me, whether voluntarily or not. We laughed, cried, threw chair across rooms, wrote urgent emails that surprisingly still hold up and took on every single challenge as best we could that came our way. I firmly believe we were the drama queens and I would not have traded it for anything. If I go on and on about the trials and tribulations we went through, Katie Sims ’20 will be very upset that I exceeded her imposed word count. Speaking of which, thank you Katie for allowing a stranger to take an excellent photo of us in Slope Day tanks at the spigot, it turned out great as we all know.

And finally thank you to my fantastic staff I had the pleasure to work with and train. I am beyond relieved the department has grown and evolved so much in such a short period of time. In August 2016, I could have listed the entire design department staff on one hand (shout out to Wei, Melody, Emma and Megan)! Thank you all for your dedication, enthusiasm and patience.

This place has mean the world to me and is a crucial part of my Cornell experience that I will never, ever forget. The people, the drama and the memories I had at The Sun made this place my home away from home. Thank you.

Brian LaPlaca is graduating from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. This is a special edition of The Quark XPress.