Columns, Opinions

Emily Miller: Indelible ink

By
Guest Columnist
Friday, May 24, 2019

When Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced his presidential candidacy, few knew where to turn for in-depth analysis of his political philosophy or personal beliefs. The New York Times struck gold when the editors dusted off the opinions columns Buttigieg had written 16 years prior for the Harvard Crimson. 

According to the Times, Buttigieg’s writings as an undergraduate constitute the foundation for his current political ideology. As college students, it is difficult to believe that our collegiate musings could serve as the centerpiece of our future bibliographies. However, maybe this forum is more telling than we had imagined.

Though The Herald was never meant to be “vanity press,” as I look back on Brown and my time at this newspaper, I wonder what secrets others may uncover in my writings. The Buttigieg story makes me see my writing through the eyes of future employers or curious journalists, trying to glimpse the two-dimensional version of me that they might see.

That isn’t to say that I don’t own the words I have written in these pages. My columns can be seen as a window into my psyche. They reveal my political opinions. They detail my fascinations and my frustrations with Brown and our nation and our world. They chronicle the evolution of my writing, with the help of dedicated teachers and editors. My opinions columns offer a snapshot of my world over the past four years — many of my views, my grievances and my desires for Brown’s campus and beyond, and my enduring pride in my alma mater. However, they do not paint a complete picture of who I am.

Much like a final paper, my columns are polished products. They do not capture all the late nights in the Rockefeller Library or the import of long and often tense conversations with friends and faculty, all of whom have suffered my stubbornness with grace. They do not recount the endless exploration and thrashing out of ideas with bright and often unlike minds, which is a quintessential part of the Brown experience. These moments of intellectual development are among those I will cherish most from my time at Brown.

So many things become lost in this two-dimensional world: countless laughs on the Main Green, late nights, books devoured and mornings with the cacophony of “CAUTION: BUS IS TURNING” and my roommates singing. These moments, however invisible to the readers of my columns, fundamentally shaped my Brown experience. 

Brown students are much more than their academic and extracurricular output, just as Brown is a place steadfastly dedicated to inquiry beyond the classroom. We are all part of a vibrant community brimming with hope and intellectual experimentation. Still, each of us has left an indelible mark on this University, and I implore each of you to think about the tangible and intangible marks you have left on campus. I also would like us to look beyond these moments — our tangible achievements or most proud final products — and meditate on the process by which we reached them.

Alright, the New York Times, the Atlantic or even the Washington Examiner, if you ever feel compelled to make sense of me, just peruse my columns from The Herald archives. But my columns are not complete presentations of myself and my views; they catalog the evolution of my thoughts and serve as a reminder that this development is ever ongoing.

In the meantime, thank you to the Brown community for reading my past columns and now this one, my last attempt as a Brown student to offer my appreciation for the most challenging and rewarding four years.