The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The most I could ever ask as an editor

It’s been about five months since I’ve been on this job. In that time I’ve written on too many topics for even me to remember. However, I do still recall the first piece I ever wrote for this publication: it was an opinion I contributed nearly a year ago called “Thoughts of a Living Atheist.”

I was channeling a song by Muse for that title, but I feel like the reference was a bit too esoteric for anyone besides me to understand. In that opinion I talked about my own experience of being an open atheist on a campus whose student body I’d perceived to be mostly Christian.

I consider myself a cynic generally (what kind of English major would I be otherwise?) and so naturally I expected to be inundated with e-mails and messages reminding me that I would burn in hell for the rest of eternity and exhorting me to accept Christ into my life. Perhaps since I set my expectations so low I could only be pleasantly surprised in that circumstance.

To this day that opinion generated the most feedback of any piece I’ve written, and almost all of it was from people commending me on my honesty about my faith and expressing that they too felt like there wasn’t a proper place for them here on this campus because of their lack of religious affiliation.

I was humbled by that kind of response. I’d never imagined that writing about being an atheist was a brave thing to do; people like Christopher Hitchens made a living off of it, after all.

However, I was glad that people responded so positively to what I had to say.

Additionally, I’m proud to say that after that opinion was published a club for secular minded students was started here on this campus and continues to thrive to this day. I’m glad to see that people who don’t consider themselves religious can find just as much of a sense of belonging here as people of any other faith at SMU.

That’s not to say that my actions led to the creation of that group. They didn’t. But the piece I wrote generated a response, at least, and sometimes that’s the most you can ask for.

In fact, part of the reason I originally wanted this position as editor of the column was so I might be able to write other pieces like the one I first wrote that would generate similar responses. I wanted to promote a dialogue. I wanted to get people talking. Sometimes I feel like I legitimately accomplished that goal; other times I’m sure I bored my readers silly.

Editing an opinion column for a newspaper requires a lot of audacity. It takes a good amount of nerve to assume that you’re writing something that people legitimately want to read. And oftentimes it was easy to tell that I was writing pieces that people didn’t really want to read.

I’m guessing not a lot of people care about my philosophical musings on the place of college education in America. Every once in a while I’d have to write a piece on Ron Paul just to make sure people would actually respond (and they did. If there’s one thing I’ve learned while editing this column it’s that nothing gets more negative responses than presenting even the slightest of criticisms at Ron Paul).

I practiced my skills as a writer. I found a lot of interesting people with voices I was able to help make heard through opinion contributions. I made sure the column always broached a diverse array of topics. I made some people agree with me and even more want to contradict me vehemently. I wrote, and people reacted. And sometimes, that’s the most you can really ask for.

Brandon is a sophomore majoring in English.  

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