When Words Fall Short

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When Words Fall Short

Courtesy of Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram

Courtesy of Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram

Courtesy of Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram

Courtesy of Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram

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By Taylor Shaw

In high school, I was really big on quotes. I was the girl who would caption every Instagram post with any quote moderately relevant to my over-saturated selfie. I tweeted song lyrics, and I did so shamelessly. For the most part, my obsession with words was little more than a mild embarrassment and an excessive room décor technique. But, sometimes, when my own words can’t quite capture what I’m trying to say, I fall back on the words of those who came before me.

“If you want to continue existing, do something” – Neil Hilborn

My first semester at Fordham was—like that of many others—overwhelming. I was confused, lonely, lost and utterly unsure of myself. I’d made friends, but they didn’t know who I had been for the 18 years leading up to that moment. The idea of a blank slate was terrifying, so naturally, I decided to write as little of myself onto it as possible. I cried, a lot. I went to class, went to the cafeteria, went to The Blend and spent any time in between in bed watching as many episodes of “Criminal Minds” as Netflix could offer.

My only reprieve from that monotonous and somewhat soul-draining schedule I’d created for myself was The Fordham Ram. For two hours each week, I’d head from South to the fluorescently-lit basement of McGinley, where I’d sit at the copy-editing table and read articles before they went to print.

I’d worked on my high school newspaper (Thank you, Mrs. Segall and The Masuk Free Press), and though I liked reporting and writing, I decided to stick with editing. I enjoyed the detail-oriented, nit-picky way of it. It was subtle involvement, understated, but far from unnecessary to the production of the paper.

For those of you who haven’t made your way down to B-52—and I highly recommend that you do—every article that goes into print is thoroughly checked at least seven times before readers see it. Being one of those pairs of eyes gave me a sense of pride as I was suddenly a part of something special.

While they may not seem monumental or elegant, Hilborn’s words became a sort of mantra for me. The copy table was my saving grace. It gave me somewhere to go, some then-strangers to talk to and something important to do.

I found myself arguing passionately with people I hardly knew over grammar; AP style does not encourage Oxford commas, and I was a soldier for its cause. We fought for subject-verb agreement, battled incorrect usage of pronouns and—on occasion, in jest—villainized sports-writers for making their own rules. We discussed the controversial articles, substantiated claims and researched statistics to help support writers’ voices. During the downtime, we talked about our days and unloaded whatever worries and stories we’d been harboring in our heads. We laughed, a lot.

“If you believe, with absolute honesty, that you are doing everything you can – do more.” – Shane Koyczan

As time went on, I grew more involved at The Ram, staying for later shifts, making executive edits and applying to be on the staff. And as I grew more involved at The Ram, I grew more involved outside of it, too. I branched out and found more to do with New Student Orientation and the Fordham Experimental Theatre. I spent a lot less time watching Netflix and a lot more time in McGinley. I did more, and in turn, existed unapologetically, happily.

Each Tuesday night, I still found myself back in that windowless, sometimes-too-cold, sometimes-too-hot room, colorful pen in hand. I was lucky enough to be the assistant copy chief on Volume 99 and now the managing editor for The Ram’s 100th Volume. In more than one way, The Ram gave me a voice.

In the name of our centennial volume, I’ve been putting together weekly spreads of content from The Fordham Ram archives, and as I’ve been sifting through the many, many, many pages, I’ve found myself reflecting upon the great significance of this publication.

Sometimes, The Ram is out of favor with the administration. Sometimes it’s out of favor with the student body. But no matter who is reading it, The Ram serves as the university’s journal of record, and the student journalists who devote hours—missing many a Beer Hall karaoke night—to its weekly production will forever impress me.

I’ve said my piece about the importance of copy, but it goes beyond that table. Digital, multimedia, photo and business are all crucial pieces in the puzzle. Sports, opinion and culture writers and editors are constantly producing and perfecting content. There are never enough words to sing high enough praise for the news section and for its students who drop everything for breaking news. I’m certain that if you listened closely enough, you’d hear, “do more, do more, do more,” playing in the background of The Ram’s Spotify sing-alongs each week.

“Look at the people we found…the people we keep.” – Theresa Schliep (sometime around 4 a.m. during production last semester)

More than anything else that The Fordham Ram has given me—and it has given me so very much—I am grateful for the people it brought into my life.
Sydney, Amanda, Amanda, Tara and every table of copy editors: thank you for giving me somewhere to go, somewhere to listen to stories, somewhere to tell them. Liz and Cal: thank you for sitting with me, sharing candy and grounding me week after week. Erin and Margarita: thank you for leading us and teaching us with compassion. The staff of Volume 99: thank you for growing with me, laughing with me, being patient with me. Each of you left your words in bold and your bright fingerprints upon the pages of my life.

The staff of Volume 100: thank you for bearing with us, sending the extra emails, making those extra rounds of edits. Thanks for the astrology, the banter, the tea and the happy tears. Thank you for being my friends, my family.

Beth Knobel: thank you for always guiding us in the right direction. Bailey: thank you for building arguments that matter deeply. Aislinn: thank you for sticking around through the tough stuff and—quite literally—living with my antics and emotions. Jack: thank you for being an irreplaceable, loyal friend with the most distinguished writer’s voice I have ever been lucky enough to edit. Theresa, our fearless leader: thank you for everything you’ve done for this publication and for me. You are the strongest, most determined, most hard-working person I know.

I know that I am quoting the volumes of editors before me, when I say to The Fordham Ram: “Thank you.”