When I arrived for the first time at 4015 Walnut Street on a late, rainy Tuesday night in the fall of 2018, I frankly didn’t think too highly of the headquarters of Penn’s independently run student newspaper.
Tucked away in an almost completely windowless building behind Acme on the edges of campus, The Daily Pennsylvanian operates out of the second floor of a seldom-cleaned storage building. If you’re lucky to get there in the morning, you can enjoy the aroma of food from Metropolitan Bakery and Cafe. If not, the building’s smells will never cease to surprise you.
Still, after nearly a year and a half away from campus, I can’t deny the significance that 4015 Walnut Street played during my time at Penn. I am extremely grateful for my time at The Daily Pennsylvanian and the DP’s sports department, DPOSTM (Daily Pennsylvanian’s Only Section That Matters) — one of my favorite pockets at Penn.
Sports and journalism have always been a large part of my life, but before matriculating to Penn, I realized I did not want either to be the primary focus of my studies. Still, I have always enjoyed watching, analyzing, and debating sports, and I looked forward to learning about sports I was not familiar with, like squash and rowing. And as a freshman looking to meet fellow Penn students, DPOSTM would at least be a way to make new friends who shared similar interests.
Reflecting on freshman year naïveté, DPOSTM has been so much more than a freshman year pastime. At the DP, I have been lucky enough to find some of the most amazing people I have had the pleasure of knowing. I have had so many great experiences here, from long nights in the office yelling about Stephen A. Smith roasting Kwame Brown on print days, to witnessing Joey Piatt give his best Odell Beckham Jr. impression in the Kamin Cup, to traveling to cover Penn teams in nine different states.
My freshman year, I even came to call the DP home — literally. When a PennCard glitch deactivated my card for 24 hours, I braved the night at 4015 Walnut after playing a game of tag with Penn administrators trying to gain access to my dorm. It almost seems fitting that the DP was there for me when Penn wasn’t.
The DP also provided me with the flexibility to pursue other passions. When I wanted to become president of another club about which I was passionate, the sports editors were understanding of my situation, and they gave me a role that allowed me to devote time to both activities. It meant a lot to me that I could play a large role in both organizations.
I am extremely grateful for the educational opportunities Penn has provided me. Still, even as a student in Wharton, I’ve always found myself an outlier among the Penn community, where expenditures run rampant. As fellow Nashvillian and my good friend Will Snow pointed out, Penn’s overtly lavish culture is suffocating. I have observed many of my peers at Penn treat money like confetti, with frequent downtown date night functions, expensive clothes, weekend flights to Amsterdam, and exorbitant bar tabs. Even if I was able to partake in such activities, such a showy lifestyle is not personally appealing. And in Wharton, the atmosphere is even more pronounced.
Before he graduated, Will stressed to me the importance of finding your pockets at Penn. At any big school, finding a community is a necessity to navigating campus life. Having a community of support in place allows you to thrive and put your best foot forward in the classroom. It’s not your GPA, nor the classes you took, but rather the people you meet and communities you join that make Penn memorable.
For me, 4015 Walnut will always be my oasis of comfort at Penn. During college, it was always a place I could go to shoot the breeze with friends in DPOSTM, meet new people and catch up with friends from elsewhere around the DP, and put on a clinic in H-O-R-S-E/P-I-G. After making your way past Metropolitan Bakery and Cafe, you won’t find an assortment of Canada Goose jackets. What you will find is a hub of some of the most wonderful individuals you will ever meet.
You can’t put a price on that.
JACKSON JOFFE is a Wharton senior from Nashville, Tenn., studying finance and statistics. He served as a deputy associate sports editor in fall 2020 and spring 2021. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.