Why The Hoot matters to me

Since the founding of The Brandeis Hoot in early 2005, dozens—and possibly hundreds—of Hoot alumni have stepped through the doors of the Brandeis Media Coalition (BMC) to work on issues of The Hoot. Last week’s proposal, which has since been rescinded, asking the Student Union to de-charter The Hoot states, “Once a student graduates from Brandeis and gets a job or leaves the city altogether to move on with their lives, the concern at the bottom of their list is the well-being of the university clubs they were a part of. If this de-chartering is approved, nobody would be dismayed by the dissolution of The Hoot in three years. The students who founded The Hoot fifteen years ago will live their lives unaffected by this action.” But the issue with this statement is that our alumni do care. The Hoot reached out to known alumni before the proposal was rescinded late on Thursday night, including two of our founders, Igor Pedan ’05. Here is what they had to say.

Igor Pedan ’05, Founder of The Brandeis Hoot

“Obviously classes come and go and the purpose of The Hoot and what it means to different classes changes…and to me that’s the greatest thing…Whatever my and my co-founders vision was, it’s great to see each generation make it their own…All of the EIC’s in the four or five years following me that I talk to from time to time definitely care about The Hoot and see it as a significant part of their college experience in shaping who they are now.”

Lisa (Libra) Pazan ’05, Founder of The Brandeis Hoot

“One of the highlights of my time at Brandeis was helping to create The Brandeis Hoot, a new student newspaper on campus during my senior year (2004 – 2005). This experience building something from scratch was pivotal in my decision to later pursue an MBA and helped me succeed in subsequent roles at Apple and now at Google. It has been a great source of pride to watch the newspaper flourish over the last 15 years, and I look back at my time working on The Brandeis Hoot with great fondness. It would be a terrible misfortune if The Brandeis Hoot was de-chartered, and I strongly urge the Union to vote against this course of action.”

Mia Edelstein ’17, Former Editor-in-Chief (EIC)

“The Hoot taught me about accountability, ethics and integrity, which I continue to carry with me. At The Hoot, I learned how to negotiate coverage, respect for students and a mission for the truth. I learned these lessons from people I interviewed and the Hoot staff I worked with because they were relentless in accurately representing what was going on at Brandeis and respecting the community we were a part of. Additionally, The Hoot broadened my understanding of who and what made up Brandeis because I was constantly exposed to articles that covered pockets of campus I never would have come across otherwise. The Hoot is still how I keep up with what matters to students, especially because The Hoot strives to democratize the ability to get published. The Hoot is an indispensable supplement to institutional publications like BrandeisNOW and Louie News.”

Yael Katzwer ’12, Former Managing Editor

“As a Brandeis student, I loved The Hoot; as a Brandeis alumna, I still love The Hoot…During my time at Brandeis, The Hoot was more than just a newspaper—it was my family. Each Thursday I would spend hours upon hours in the BMC with my fellow Hootsters and those are some of my best memories from Brandeis. I made friends at The Hoot that I will keep for the rest of my life and whom I love dearly…and I learned that a newspaper is not just a collection of stories—it is a culmination of passion, hard work and a deep commitment to the community. Without The Hoot I would not be where I am today.”

Hannah (Vickers) Carson ’10, Former Sports Editor

“When I first entered Brandeis, I had a clear vision: I was going to law school after graduation. That was fine, until I took a law class and decided that was not the career for me. I felt lost at that point, as this plan I held for years was suddenly gone. That changed when, on a whim, I picked up a journalism class and was introduced to students from The Hoot. I joined the staff as a sports writer, before serving as sports editor the following academic year…That decision opened so many doors for me…I would not be where I am today – pursuing my PhD and teaching communication skills to thousands of first-year students at the largest university in Perth—if it were not for The Hoot…I actively follow The Hoot and the Crew Team, and the majority of my donations to Brandeis in the past nine years have gone to my clubs.”

Ariel Wittenberg ’11, former EIC

“I met my husband while working on The Brandeis Hoot. I ascended to editor in chief in 2010, and he took over for me when I graduated. We have affectionately dubbed one wall in our Washington, D.C., apartment our “Hoot wall.” It’s where we display a framed printout of the Hoot logo, farewell columns we each wrote for our last issues as editor in chief, a picture of us working on The Hoot together, a staff photo and a string of reporting awards I have won since graduation during my career as a journalist. It’s impossible to write in just a few paragraphs how important The Hoot is to me and to the student body because The Hoot has meant so much to me throughout my life; The Hoot is my family, friends, career…I spent more than 10 hours every Thursday of my sophomore, junior and senior years crowded into the BMC with my best friends, putting out a paper I was proud of, and I spent countless more time reporting and editing the articles we published. That experience doesn’t disappear when you graduate. As I wrote in my aforementioned farewell column nearly a decade ago, The Hoot is more than just 20 pages of newsprint, ‘It is the lifeblood of this staff poured into solid, tangible, readable form. It is vital information produced not only by ink, paper and press, but also by time, energy and shoe leather.’”

Emily (Stott) Maraschky ’14, former EIC

“I am so thankful to have been part of The Brandeis Hoot. My college experience would have been completely different without it. The Hoot was a place where we could be ourselves, work hard and publish something that could change our campus. Without the traditional hierarchy of roles, students could become leaders when others saw their determination and talent. There were no fixed caps on the number of writers or editors or any other box – we welcomed whoever was willing to help, and there was always another willing to teach. Students were willing to put their whole heart into the paper. That kind of dedication is rare to find…I was not the most outgoing student, yet at The Hoot I felt supported, challenged, and was able to become EIC… My responsibilities taught me more than I could have learned in a college class—navigating conversations with administrators, clubs, interpersonal conflicts, etc.”

Andrew Elmers ’16, former EIC

“Editing and writing for The Brandeis Hoot was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life, let alone my undergraduate years in Waltham. My colleagues at The Hoot are some of the smartest and most talented people I’ve met, and there was nothing like the feeling of pride when I saw the finished paper on a Friday afternoon having stayed up until 4 AM the night before at production. (This sounds like a eulogy, but I swear it isn’t.) I honestly do not know where I would be today, personally or professionally, without my experiences at The Hoot, and I am grateful for the opportunities I was afforded as a mere college kid. I hope the Student Union doesn’t de-charter the Brandeis Hoot for any reason, as the value it brings to the community far exceeds the cost to produce it. But really, it’s just an important part of Brandeis that should be celebrated and supported.”

Jordan Rothman ’09, former Senior Editor

“Working for The Brandeis Hoot was an integral part of my college experience. I started working for the Brandeis Hoot under the paper’s second EIC, and the culture of The Hoot during my time at the paper was unlike any club on campus. The Hoot was a warm, welcoming place, where people were dedicated to our mission of responsibly reporting all the news that was happening at the Brandeis community. I made some of my closest college friends, and have some of my fondest college memories, as a member of the Brandeis Hoot…Writing for The Hoot had a substantial impact on my life. Working under tight deadlines at The Hoot helped me prepare for my career as an attorney, since I routinely have to work under time pressures as a lawyer. In addition, the ability to compose articles in short amounts of time helped prepare me for my work as a blogger. I would not be the person I am today without The Hoot, and I do not think that Brandeis would be the college it is today without The Hoot either. The Hoot is an important institution on campus, that has impacted generations of students in profound ways.”

Gordy Stillman ’13, Former Managing Editor

“My time at Brandeis was a mixture of good times and bad times. The Hoot, unequivocally, was central to my overall positive experience at Brandeis. Between Nov. 2009 and Feb. 2013, I discovered my love of journalism, amassing more than 120 bylines between the opinions, arts, sports and news sections. If not for The Hoot, I’d have never pursued journalism as a career…The friends I made on The Hoot became my roommates when I lived off campus, remained the friends I kept in contact with after graduating and are the core of why I stayed at Brandeis after considering transferring early in my undergraduate career. I kid you not, I am typing this while waiting to board a flight to a former Hoot editor’s wedding, where I’ll see friends I have not had the chance to see since graduation because that is the kind of bond that The Hoot forges…I owe the man I am today to my time on The Hoot. It’s not hyperbole when I say that the best parts of my post-Brandeis life all trace back to my time in the BMC working on printing the paper.”

Julie Landy ’17, former EIC

“I never thought I would be an editor-in-chief of The Hoot when I showed up at the BMC the first Thursday of my freshman year to see if they might let me copyedit. I certainly didn’t expect to stay in that crowded, messy, crumb-laden room until 2 a.m. that night (about 6 hours past my preferred bedtime), and continue to elect to stay until ungodly hours nearly each subsequent week for 4 years. I didn’t plan to write a single article (which I did; precisely one article), and I didn’t expect to learn a thing about layout, and I didn’t anticipate that I would actually end up caring about this newspaper enough that years after graduating…But it sucked me in—the editors and staff cared about faithfully reporting the news and representing the student body, and they cared about building a foundation that future generations of student journalists could continue to develop in the years to come. They cared about what they were doing, and they cared about the people who would carry it on when they were gone…”

Bret Matthew ’11, former Opinions Editor

“The first thing I did at Brandeis was get lost in Massell Quad because I thought I was in North. The second thing I did was join The Hoot…I told the editors I wanted to write op-eds, and they told me that the best way to build an audience was to write every week. This was a mistake on their part, because Bret circa 2007 was a bad writer with bad opinions. But, it turns out that the best way to turn a bad writer into a decent writer is to force them to keep writing. I filled a column every week for four years. My writing got stronger. Whether my opinions improved is still an open question…If I had never joined The Hoot, my Thursday nights would have been a lot less stressful, but my time at Brandeis would have been infinitely more boring. And I genuinely have no idea what I would be doing right now, because working on the paper was as much a part of my education as my actual classes.”

Kayla Dos Santos ’11, former Arts Editor

“When I think about Brandeis, I remember Thursday nights huddled over ancient computers in the BMC, fighting with InDesign and downing caffeine in order to see The Hoot through to the printer…It was hard work but it was fun too because of the people. Funny, creative, opinionated and passionate. I couldn’t think of a better bunch of people to spend long hours with. We would joke about punny headlines, argue about grammar and gossip about in-progress stories.”

Hannah Schuster ’18, former EIC

“The Brandeis Hoot was such an important part of my college experience, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without this newspaper. I gained so much from the countless hours I spent reporting stories or camped out in the BMC on Thursday nights. The Hoot made me a more thoughtful, responsible person, and it gave me first-hand journalism experience that you can’t get in a classroom. It was a privilege to work with the other editors, writers, copy editors and layout stars at The Hoot—they are some of the most dedicated people I know, working tirelessly to shed light on important issues at Brandeis. And of course, they are also great friends that I’m so lucky to have.”

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