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Credit: Sydney Curran

I have loved spending my past three years as a part of The Daily Pennsylvanian more than words can properly capture. It has almost destroyed me more than once.

The DP has given me multiple panic attacks and lost me full nights of sleep. I’m probably still recovering from the temporary insanity of spending countless hours in that windowless office at 40th and Walnut streets. And the thing is, for someone who’s served two consecutive years on the company’s executive board, all of this is par for the course.

We’re a real newsroom, and newsrooms are really stressful places. The difference is that our little media company is built on college students — still kids, in many ways — managing other college students. 

If you’re anything like me, you have a love-hate relationship with the DP’s ceaseless, internal politicking and gossip. Some days, it has made me feel like Machiavelli, and on others, like I need to pull a “My Year of Rest and Relaxation.” Whether exhausting (often) or exhilarating (rarely), DP drama is never not a massive time suck. Every year, like clockwork, comes the inevitable board memo about how we all need to do less of it; anyone who can solve that will be the greatest editor in our 140-year history.

But let’s take it as a given that it can’t be solved, and why would we want to anyway? My culturally Jewish heritage has given me an appreciation for the sacred art of the kvetch, the vent, complaining for complaining’s sake. It’s what lets us blow off steam and then get back to doing our jobs. 

Nominally, those jobs are “editor” or “manager,” but when you break it down, they’re all the same thing: teacher, mentor, sensei, mafia boss. If our staffers don’t know how to do their jobs, there’s no way for us to do ours, and hopefully, if we teach at least one well enough, they will eventually be able to destroy us and assume our place. 

At this year’s annual DP Banquet, I gave a toast to our 139th board president, Jesse Zhang, where I said something to the effect of “every board position is a service position, and the higher up on the org chart you go, the truer that is.” Yet, some of the best teachers I knew during my time as a 34th Street writer — Denali Sagner or Kyle Whiting or Aakruti Ganeshan — were the ones who never ran for Street’s executive board at all. They never let the climb get in the way of the work. 

The drama gets especially bad around elections season every November. Hushed conversations happen behind locked doors; friendships either begin to crack or implode all at once; the committee schemes while the hopefuls endlessly speculate. Remember, all these kids got into an Ivy League school. It’s easy to believe that the board position you do or don’t get will determine the rest of your life, or at least your time in college. It won’t. But I’ve been guilty of this line of thought myself, and I’m grateful I never had to learn the lesson the hard way. I can admit that much.

In a way, I have the most respect for the people who were on board as sophomores and didn’t run a second time; who got in, did what they were there to do, and got out. I think of someone like Hannah Gross, the 137th board assignments editor, whose path only crossed with mine a couple of times. We met once when she was back in the office, doing interviews for a story she was writing about the company culture. She didn’t seem burned out, or like she was missing out on something. She looked happy.

Allow me to clarify: I do not regret a single moment I spent at the DP. Without the scheming, I’d be at least a few friends shorter (y’all know who you are) and without the panic attacks, there would be no glossy mag to speak of today. I cherish every single person who has taught me so much — Bea, Emily, Arielle, Christine, and Katherine — and the, dare I say, protégés I’ve seen come up under my wing — Natalia, Norah, Sophia, Hannah, Catherine, Kate, the list goes on. I’m honored to have played even the smallest part in their growth as writers and, now, as teachers themselves.

As Street editor-in-chief, I made my name and brand on an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture references. So before I depart this mortal coil for good, how about one more for the road. In the sixth season of the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” my lookalike Ben Wyatt gets laid off from his job and has no idea what to do with himself. Hmm, I wonder what that must be like.

He invents an absurdly complicated board game called The Cones of Dunshire: “8-12 players, two wizards, a maverick, the arbiter, two warriors, a corporal, and a ledgerman.” Sounds roughly like the DP company structure to me. As a former competitive Magic: The Gathering player and part-time Dungeons & Dragons aficionado, this is pretty much my love language.

Two seasons later, the Cones come back. Ben plays against the executives of made-up tech company Gryzzl to fight for free WiFi in his town of Pawnee, Ind. Just as it seems he’s on the precipice of defeat (“looks like someone’s out of resource gems”), Ben grins, then has a knowing chuckle: “You made one crucial mistake: you forgot about the essence of the game. It’s about the cones.”

The cones are the writers, of course. The bright-eyed first years who all ran their high school publications, begging to have that confidence gently broken down and replaced with something real. As Whitney Houston says, the children are the future. So make space for gossip, for drama, for scheming, plotting, and strategizing. Those things make life worth living. But never, ever forget what the game is really about. 


WALDEN GREEN is a College senior studying psychology from Philadelphia, Pa. He served as the editor-in-chief of 34th Street Magazine on The Daily Pennsylvanian’s 139th board, and as Street’s inaugural print managing editor on the 138. His email is