If I had to describe my time at Truman State, and more specifically the Truman State University Index, I’d go with this — “I walked in a dumb freshman and left a White House correspondent.” I’ll get to that “White House correspondent” later. For now, I’d like to talk about how much this newspaper has meant to me these past four years. I promise to keep the sugary-sweet thank you’s to a minimum. I walked into the Index’s office in 2012, wearing a dark suit as I headed across the hot, dry, 90-degree August day. I immediately realized I was overdressed when everyone in the office was wearing shorts, but I didn’t care when they said I could write for the opinions section. I went back to my dorm, smiling like an idiot and sweating underneath my cheap, slightly too-small suit. A few weeks later, I switched to the features section. Alumna Emily Battmer had to cut the first story I wrote for her because — and I cannot stress this enough — it sucked so much. It sucked so badly that much of the original story we printed out for editing was indecipherable because of all the ink on it. But I slowly began to improve and moved to the news section, where I worked as an assistant editor my sophomore year. I liken it to owning a 1960s Ford Mustang — it was a lot of hard work and I got a lot of headaches while working there, but I’d defend it to the death if anyone tried to mess with it. The next two years were a blur as I jumped around from the Kirksville Daily Express to an internship in the Missouri Senate and to this point in my life now. And though it’s occasionally drained me of my time and will to survive, I can’t imagine being where I am now without having printed my words on the paper you’re holding. That leads us to today. As you read this April 28, I’m in Washington D.C. for the first ever White House College Reporter Day. While you’re reading this paper somewhere on campus, I’m wandering around the West Wing and preparing to ask Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, a few questions in an upcoming briefing. And even though I’m technically only a White House correspondent for one day, I’m still forever grateful for all the incredible lessons I learned because of this paper. So, as I prepare to buy my graduation robes while holding back an anxiety attack, I have one last request for you, the readers of this paper — keep talking about what is in the paper. Does what you read make you mad at the University? Good. Talk about it, and demand better from your school. Does what you read make you mad at the Index? Awesome. Send in a letter to the editor, or better yet, join the paper and ask the hard questions this University needs to answer. To paraphrase my dad, who escaped Soviet-era Poland to come the U.S. — you can love your University without loving the people that run it. And that’s what I ask of you now — to contribute to a greater conversation about how this place can get better. Because this isn’t the president’s University or the faculty’s. It’s yours. And ultimately, you have the power to change it.
Dan Mika is a senior communication major from Chicago, Ill.
This editorial appeared in the April 28 issue of the Index. Pick up a copy at your local newsstand.