Welp ya’ll, this is it. The concluding column of my undergraduate career. My last experience writing as the individual formerly known as Kate Hirsch the Famous Tennis Player. My final time writing for the Tufts Observer.
I’d like to take this opportunity to self-indulge (as if this entire column hasn’t been one big, self-indulgent display of a privileged college student trying to safely tackle somewhat controversial topics…was that too much? Oops!) Anyways, thank you to everyone who has let me take up space, the individuals who agreed to be interviewed, those who cooperated with me in writing some pretty cool stuff (I think), and, most of all, thanks to those who edited my writing, pushed back on my ideas, and made my pieces better.
In the spirit of thanking those who helped me along the way, I decided to center this piece around a conversation I had with my dear editor, Tufts University’s gay sweetheart, Henry Jani. Henry came to my house a few days ago to discuss my column, his relationship and engagement with the content, what he liked about it, what he didn’t, and writing as a medium for talking and giving voice to some (potentially) controversial and hot button issues.
Kate Hirsch the soon to be irrelevant Tufts graduate: Hi Henry!
Henry Jani Tufts University’s most lovable gay: Hi Kate!
Kate: How are you doing on this fine day?
Henry: I am doing really well, I just had a huge iced Dunkin’ coffee and my bladder is about to explode. I already peed though, so don’t worry.
Kate: Oh, I wasn’t worried. That sounds really nice, Henry.
Henry: Thank you, it was.
Kate: So, I brought you here today to talk about my column. Sounds selfish, I know, but since you’ve been with me throughout this whole journey I thought it would be fitting to chat with you about it.
Henry: I mean, we’ve come so far.
Kate: How “far” is “far,” exactly?
Henry: In January when Sahar Roodehchi (Supreme Ruler of the Observer™) told me that Kate Hirsch wanted to write another column for the Observer, I was like, what? As in Kate Hirsch the elite Lesbian all of my friends have been talking about? I told Sahar to send me your stuff and was excited to see where this would go. And it has been such a pleasure. Reading your new column every other week made me well up, I am so proud of Kate Hirsch the Famous Tennis Player.
Kate: Wowza, thank you so much for your kind words Henry, I have welled up as a result.
***********************************************Break for tears*********************************************
Kate: Okay, we are back.
Henry: It’s good to be back.
Kate: So, I wanted to ask, what about the process or content of this column did you like? What things or subjects would you have liked to see more of, from an editorial perspective?
Henry: Wow, good question. I think you’ve tackled a lot of pretty important subjects in the column. From an editorial perspective, I look at these pieces with the realization that it is pretty difficult to put yourself out there on a big platform like this with some of the things you’ve talked about. As for things I would have liked to see…I’m not sure, do you want to try to answer that question?
Kate: Sure, sure. I mean, I was really happy to be given the opportunity to pursue and write about a lot of things that I’m passionate about, as well as work with others to tell stories that were not my own. While I am really happy with the way the column turned out overall, I think for me, the one thing I really wanted to write about, but never had the chance, space, time to dedicate to, was a talk between activists of color and White “allies” about the meaning and validity of allyship on Tufts Campus.
Henry: Yeah, I remember you talking to me about that a few times. Is there any reason you didn’t follow through with it?
Kate: I think I was just scared. In thinking about the magnitude and importance of this issue I didn’t know if I was the right person to take it on, or if I could do it well enough—for a lot of reasons. One, I didn’t know if I had enough time to commit to creating this conversation and producing a good, well thought out article. Two, I questioned the validity of me, as a White woman, trying to tackle the subject of race and allyship. Like, who am I to think I’m allowed to even touch that?
Henry: Yeah, and like, what is the validity for us, two White journalists, to be discussing this right now? I think that is one difficulty in reporting things that aren’t close to your identity, or reporting from a position of privilege. You have to think, is the space I am taking up appropriate? Should I be reporting on this? Do you think you would have liked to try to write this article?
Kate: I mean, I don’t know. But in even thinking about the possibility, I didn’t reach out to friends of mine who are people of color to even talk about all of these questions, I didn’t even try. That, I think, was a big failure on my end.
Henry: Yeah, I mean that makes a lot of sense. I do think though, that if you recognized you didn’t have the energy to put in, it is good that you didn’t write it. Clearly the subject of race and allyship at Tufts is an important one, and if you were to write it—it deserves a lot of time and effort.
Kate: Agreed, perhaps someone braver and stronger than I can write something like that in the future. Speaking of which, what is your hope for this whole “column” thang in the future?
Henry: I think the columns really took off this year, and I especially think the way that you utilized it is going to be really important. So, I guess tell your future audience to write for the Observer ;). Peace and blessings.
Ya’ll, isn’t Henry just the sweetest? Beyond that, he’s got a ton of insight into how to use the column as a medium to highlight or hold up certain voices or stories. I think that one of the most important things that I have learned from this experience is that having access to a space to give a voice to any message you want on Tufts campus is a pretty powerful tool, and an underutilized one at that. I think a lot of times people think writing op-eds or features is the best way to make your voice heard in publications, particularly in the Observer. But an op-ed or a feature is a one-time deal, a one hit wonder. A column can give you the opportunity to have a sustained voice for an entire semester, and that is a pretty crazy, powerful thing if you are a human with something to say.
I’ll sign out by echoing the words of Henry. If you think you are brave and want to say some stuff and highlight some voices that haven’t been heard, write a column. It’s been hard, I’ve made some mistakes, and I’ve left some voices out, but I’m ultimately pretty proud of what I’ve done.
I guess that’s all I have. Thanks to all for listening to my ramblings this semester, it’s been real.
Kate Hirsch, the former columnist of the Observer