On Sept. 16, 2011, I set out to find my own voice through ‘The Ernest Opinion.’ On Dec. 7, 2012, I can say I have found it. This is my last column for The Daily Pennsylvanian.
For many, this moment may come as a shock. For others, this is a day to celebrate not seeing me in the paper anymore.
But regardless of your opinion, one thing is certain: I have given you one. Mission accomplished.
My goal for ‘The Ernest Opinion’ was to make you think and speak. Think about others who are around you who don’t share their stories. And speak for those who can’t for themselves.
During my first semester writing for the DP, my opinions were more of a personal indulgence, rather than a consideration of issues that affect all of us. Many of the columns I wrote that fall reflected the way only I thought about issues. This worked great for my thoughts on affirmative action — a topic many students can connect with — but not as well for my opinions about hazing in student government, a personal account.
It wasn’t until second semester that I realized that my opinions were shaped by my experiences with you. Admiring 20-year-old virgins and preserving minority mental health for students gave me a different prospective about campus life that spring. I learned that in many ways, we all are more alike than we are different, and I hoped to express that so you all would connect with each other.
This fall, I felt I did that, taking a year to interview you, socialize with you and become your biggest friend or your most defiant foe. Tackling issues on politics, class and leadership took me to great heights. And your response was incredible.
Although I will miss this little column that could every Friday, I have embarked on a new journey: film. As the recently elected video producer of the DP, my new vision of exploring campus life will be seen through the lens, literally.
I have always had a passion for film and now for the remainder of my time at Penn, I’ll be able to express my vision in a more innovative way than ever before.
Nonetheless, I have not forgotten my roots. I wouldn’t have gotten to this point without my audience — you. You who read no matter how many people told you not to. You who read feeling mad, happy and nervous at the same time. And you who just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Thank you so much for taking the time each and every Friday to read my short narratives.
This column was my rite of passage into the true essence of Quaker life and what it means to understand it. Thirty-six columns later, I would not trade this journey for the world. I started this column as a 19-year-old student representative looking for a voice and am leaving it as a 21-year-old ex-student government member who has found that voice.
And as for the negative online commentators, a wise Quaker by the name of Benjamin Franklin once said, “any fool can criticize, condemn and complain — and most fools do.” Hopefully by now, you will have realized that most of what you have typed anonymously has only motivated me, not deterred me.
So to all of you still thinking this is over, don’t. This isn’t a goodbye, so long or farewell, but a hello to a new Ernest era.
Ernest Owens is a College junior from Chicago, Ill. “The Ernest Opinion” has appeared every Friday since fall 2011. Owens is also the video producer-elect at the DP. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in shooting or editing videos. Toss him a tweet @MrErnestOwens.
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