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One eye on the past

| Monday, February 29, 2016

On my first night working in The Observer’s office my freshman year, it took me 20 minutes to figure out how to turn on the computer.

I’ve told that story a lot recently, generally followed by the punch line “And now they’re letting me run the place!” But as much as I like to joke about it, it’s a humbling position to be in.

The first-ever edition of The Observer ran November 3, 1966. The paper printed weekly for about a year, then four times per week for another, and we’ve been more or less daily ever since.

I’d be lying through my teeth if I said that legacy weren’t daunting. But I’m up to the challenge, because what we do is important. It can be easy to lose sight of that; there are plenty of nights when spending hours tucked away in a dusty basement seems as though it can’t be worth it.

But for every time I tell myself what we do doesn’t matter, there’s another moment we play a crucial role in telling the story of this community and its students.

If you did the math a few paragraphs up, you might have noticed we’re coming up on our 50th anniversary, and I inherited the unique situation of commemorating that milestone. In the last 50 years, the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s communities have witnessed and affected enormous change.

For better or for worse, we’ve been there with it, and we’ve been writing things down — what we saw, how students felt about it and what happened next.

Personally, I’ve only been on this campus for two-and-a-half years, and I’m more than halfway done. I wasn’t here for things that fundamentally shaped the conversations this community has today — significant moments like the admission of women to Notre Dame, and less significant, everyday moments that shaped the future nonetheless.

I think it’s important to take time to look back and understand our history, the wonderful moments, and perhaps more importantly, the moments we would rather forget. That is what we intend to do.

In our archives, we have the stories of 49 years worth of students, alumni, faculty, staff and other members of this community who fought to make Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s what they are today, and I hope we can share some of those stories with you.

For our part, we’re going to keep doing what we always do. My biggest hope for our golden jubilee is simply that we keep reaching higher, keep trying to do better. And if we don’t, consider this your personal invitation to let me know.

My first time sending down the paper all by myself was Thursday night. Actually, it was not-very-early Friday morning. I’d like to think I’ve come a long way since freshman year, but it certainly wasn’t without a lot of work, some tears and the occasional sleepless night, and I certainly have a long way to go. Nevertheless, I’m going to keep at it, with one eye on the past and another on tomorrow’s paper.

Contact Margaret Hynds at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Margaret Hynds

Margaret is a senior Political Science major and the former Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. She hails from Washington, D.C., and is a former Phox of Pangborn Hall. Follow Margaret on Twitter @MargaretHynds

Contact Margaret