Move past your differences, divisions; work together, make this place better

Anyone who’s been around me for very long knows that my Radiohead fandom knows no bounds, so whether we’re old friends or complete strangers, I hope you’ll forgive me dragging them into my farewell column.

In their song “No Surprises,” from the OK Computer album, Thom Yorke wails, “This is my final fit, my final bellyache.” I’ll admit that I’ve been planning this column for about as long as I’ve worked here (nearly three years.) Until a few weeks ago, I thought those lyrics would be an accurate descriptor of my goodbye to the University – one final bellyache.

God, how I wanted to whine.

For months, I looked forward to the day when I finally got to sit down and ventilate my thoughts and frustrations, to burn off some righteous anger about the problems I haven’t been able to change during my time on campus. Things felt so close sometimes, like we as a student body were right on the edge of a much-needed shift and then, inexplicably, we faltered, fell backwards and got stuck again in an embarrassing, outdated status quo. I wanted to bitch and moan.

Now, though, so close to the end of my time here, I’m over it. I’m over my negativity and complaining and discontent at the things I haven’t been able to control. I’ve decided to dedicate this short space to trying to encourage the friends and peers and campus I’m leaving behind. As much as I love Radiohead, I’m going to frame it around the other love in my life, The Crimson White.

At this paper, something magical happens. Every day, more than a hundred people of all races, men and women, greeks and independents and liberals and conservatives come together to make something for The University of Alabama student body. We set aside our differences, and every damn day, we create one of the best products of its kind in the United States. I have tried to imagine something else like it at the Capstone other than our athletic programs, and I have failed.

I want to leave campus having encouraged everyone – student engineers building something, student nurses treating people, student lawyers working pro bono and every other path of study that our campus offers – to work together in that way. Get together, put aside your differences and do something worth being proud of. Unite for something and do good work. Speaking from three years at the paper, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that with or without recognition or pay or glory, it will be the most rewarding thing you can do during your years here. It will build bonds and create friendships and, ideally, it will help people. What you do is up to you, but please, do something. Let the legacy you leave behind be that you have worked to make The University of Alabama a better place for everyone involved.

I’m tragically limiting what I can say about family and friends and coworkers, but here it goes, anyway.

To those who came before me and have already gone, to Taylor and Jon, Kat and Laura, Victor and John and Sarah and Patty, thank you. Your strength and advice and examples got me through the best times and the darkest times.

To the people leaving with me, to my No. 1 bro and solid rock Ashley, to Melissa, who kept my head mostly in check, and to Will, who believed in me from my first article to my last, thank you. You will all do amazing things, and I can’t say how privileged I am to have worked with you for as long as I have.

To those we’re leaving behind, to Anna and Mackenzie, to Mazie and Lauren, to Marc and Chandler and Daniel and John, thank you. I have loved this paper more than anything for the last three years, I have fiercely protected and defended it, and I can honestly say I feel fine leaving it in your hands. You’re going to make the rest of us look bad with what you accomplish here in the years to come.

To the rest of my support group, to Mom and Dad, Carly and Aaron, Skiv and Colby and ‘niqua, Meme and Papa and GG, thank you. Who would have thought it? Somehow you helped me through and we’ve made it out on the other side, which surprises me just as much as it must surprise all of you. I can step into whatever’s next knowing that some of the best people on the planet have my back.

To everyone else who stumbles on this, friends and strangers alike, get with your peers and do something good. It will be noticed, it will help you through the bad and it will make the good better.

Thanks for everything, UA, and Roll Tide forever.

Stephen Dethrage was the production editor of The Crimson White for the 2012-2013 year.

 

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