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The Fulcrum's 2021-22 editorial board. Photo: Alex Rivette/Fulcrum
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The 2021-22 editorial board has come to an end and we’d like to say goodbye!

In the spirit of our editor-in-chief, Charley’s heartwarming goodbye from his four-year stint at the Fulcrum, several of us from the editorial board had some kind words of our own. 

Aly Murphy, arts & culture editor (2020-21) and managing editor (2021-22)

Aly Murphy. Photo: Hailey Otten/Fulcrum

To our former managing editor, Emily: you were right. I did use too many semicolons.

Two years ago, I applied for the arts and culture editor position at the Fulcrum. My writing resume was slim — I was a theatre critic through and through, and convincing me to write features or, god forbid, interviews, was a tough sell. I’d copyedited some academic monographs — my favourite professor had generously brought me on as a research assistant — but I wasn’t a journalist, let alone a deputy editor for one of Canada’s largest student newspapers. Surely not.

But I needed a job. Box office gigs of years past were a memory, and a fading one at that. I needed a stopgap to mitigate the inevitable disappearance of CERB. I needed something which would let me work from home. I wanted something more fulfilling than retail or food service or warehousing.

Charley hired me.

That was nice of him.

These past two years have been formative, exciting, brutal, wonderful, exhausting — I can’t recommend entering a dying field at the height of a pandemic, but I can say these have been some of the most professionally fulfilling years of my life. The Fulcrum opened doors I didn’t even know were there in the first place: 2019 Aly would not have thought it possible that 2021 Aly would be published in a print edition of Maclean’s. 

As arts & culture editor, I found a real love for interviewing people, wrestling with their stories, their words. I relaxed into the Fulcrum’s chain of command, its style guide — in my current job at Intermission Magazine in Toronto, I’ve fully adopted the Fulcrum’s formatting style for works-in-progress. The Fulcrum made me a more rigorous writer and editor, a more cutthroat reporter, a night owl.

After I got into the University of Toronto last year (and announced to the world I was moving to The Big City™), I realized that would mean leaving the Fulcrum after just one year. That sucked.

Well.

That didn’t happen.

Charley’s the best, and so this year, we’ve made it work, me editing and, uh, managing a team of fifteen-ish writers from several hours away.

It’s time to say goodbye — Charley’s stepping back to start the rest of his life, and I am, too. I’ve settled into a gorgeous little existence in Toronto, running a theatre arts magazine where I get to write and edit theatre criticism as much as I’d like. My first piece for the Toronto Star came out this weekend, nearly a year to the day since my Maclean’s piece in 2021. This is the last weekly edition of the University of Ottawa’s English-language student newspaper I will copyedit, and these are the last words I will pen for the Fulcrum.

Actually, they’re not: I’m flexing some authority as managing editor and paying homage to my dear friend, wonderful coworker, and best boss in the world. 

My parting words from my favourite job?

Blizzard do be addictive.

Jasmine McKnight, freelancer (2018-19), associate sports editor (2019-20), sports editor (2020-22), and incoming editor-in-chief (2022-23)

Jasmine McKnight. Photo: Hailey Otten/Fulcrum

It’s been a wild couple of years. 

Looking back, it’s hard to imagine the little baby first-year I was when I first started writing with the Fulcrum. 

And holy fuck, I had no idea what it would turn out to be. 

Since 2018, I’ve come a long way, figuring out the direction I want my career to go thanks to the growth and guidance the roles I’ve filled at the Fulcrum have provided me. 

More importantly, I discovered my passion for the stories behind the game. Sports are fucking awesome, no doubt. There is absolutely nothing like cracking some drinks, sitting back, and enjoying the entirety of NFL Sundays. 

But there’s more to it.

It’s the storylines that make game day so interesting, the dedication to the sport and emotions of the athletes that make it so compelling.

As a university athlete myself, I know just as much as anyone that so much occurs behind the scenes and how hard it can be to balance the student-athlete lifestyle. 

Early on in my sports writing journey, I realized how much I care about the stories that athletes have to tell. 

I have been happy to have the opportunity and responsibility to put these stories into words and share them with the Gee-Gees community. 

As a Gee-Gee, I’ve gotten to play at nationals numerous times — copping a trophy this most recent one. 

As the Fulcrum’s sports editor, I’ve gotten to be on the sidelines and cover national championships and soak in the atmosphere of special games like Capital Hoops. 

It’s been a lot of fun.

That said, after two years, it’s time to move on from the sports editor role. 

Quick thank you to Andrew, for teaching me the basics when I had no idea how any of this worked. Then to Matt for officially bringing me onto edboard and helping grow my confidence.

And of course, Charley. The Charley-Jasmine era of the sports section has been mad fun and it sucks to see it come to an end. Not only do I appreciate what I learned from Charley from my time as his associate sports editor, and the past two years of his EIC terms, but it’s the fact that he gave me complete trust in making the section what I wanted it to be. 

I can’t forget to give a thank you to the people who have become real friends of mine throughout all of this. Your support has meant the world to me. 

It feels good. 

I’ve created pieces I’ll be proud of for a long time, and I’ve built relationships that mean the world to me. 

Between the Fulcrum and the Gee-Gees community, I’ve felt incredibly at home these past four years. 

Which is why I’m not going too far this coming year, sorry, you’re still stuck with me. 

While it is absolutely someone else’s turn to go on their own sports editor journey, I’ll still be here as co-EIC.

I am glad I’ll still get to oversee the section, but I am so excited and eager to see what the next sports editor does to continue growing and building up the section. 

Lots of love, 

Jasmine

Zoë Mason, freelancer (2018-19), features editor (2019-20) and news editor (2021-22)

Zoë Mason. Photo: Zoë Mason/Fulcrum

I wrote a poem the first time I left the Fulcrum office for what I thought would be the last time. I will not be sharing it. 

In March 2020, I believe I was the last person to leave the office the day we were told we had to go. I had one more interview in the drafty little features office in the corner of the second floor, and after that, I refused to leave. I stayed until well after it got dark. I remember when I left I ran my fingers along the walls on my way down. I wanted very badly to stay in touch with it. 

It wouldn’t be terribly overdramatic to say that the Fulcrum changed my life. As an anxious eighteen-year-old, alone in a new city, I did very little with my first year of university. I don’t really remember how I got involved in the Fulcrum. I do remember that contributor meetings were the only time I would leave my apartment. 

I joined the staff incredibly overeager and the youngest member on the editorial board. If I annoyed everyone, they never let me know it. It changed everything for me. I hate the way that sounds. It’s the truth, though. I wasn’t alone anymore. The Fulcrum gave me heroes, who became mentors, and eventually, friends. They’re still all three to me. 

By the time we got the message in March, 2020, I wasn’t ready to leave. I was angry at the strange twist of fate that took my corner office and everything else.

But that wasn’t the end, for the Fulcrum and me. The Fulcrum and Ottawa are one amorphous entity in my mind. I’m sure I will remember them as components of each other for the rest of my life, now that I am leaving both. I was never here without also being there. I came back to Ottawa and the office remained. 

It was strange to be older in that office. I hope that I’ve done half as good a job as a mentor and a friend to the young staff as the older staff were to me. I don’t have half as much to offer them. 

When we were in Vancouver in 2020, my older colleagues told me what it was like to graduate: all the fear and uncertainty, the excitement and trepidation of overwhelming opportunity. I was so sure then that I would be more certain than them, when the time came. I am not. One last Fulcrum lesson for the road.

I wish I’d had more time to write this little farewell. I wish I could’ve ended with something impactful and beautiful. I’d like to think the Fulcrum forgives me. I’ve already given it my best.

Desiree Nikfardjam, staff writer (2021) and arts & culture editor (2022)

Desiree Nikfardjam. Photo: Hailey Otten/Fulcrum

Well, Fulcrum, it’s been quite a year. While I wish we met sooner I know that everything happens for a reason, and I don’t think this is goodbye.

When I applied to the University of Ottawa, I already did some research on the Fulcrum, in hopes to join once I was accepted. I’ll admit my first year brought on many challenges — COVID-19 being the most prominent — and I was too nervous to apply. I didn’t know what to expect from university, so I didn’t get involved.

And then of course my second year was another big adjustment. Quarantining at home, trying to navigate virtual learning, so again, I stayed away. However, when I started looking for an apartment for my third year, I thought it was now or never: if I didn’t apply, it would be too late.

Even though I had missed the application deadline by a week, our EIC, Charley, let me send mine in, and I’m very grateful that he did.

This year has been so wonderful. Not only have I been given the privilege to meet and work with some amazing people, I was able to validate my dreams and catch a glimpse of what it’s like to be a real journalist. 

I started off as a staff writer, writing two news articles a week. While it was stressful at times, with deadlines and quick turnarounds, our editorial board was filled with kind and understanding people who helped me through the stress. 

And when I applied to become arts and culture editor for the second half of the school year, those same people gave me the support I needed to transition into that role.

Both positions helped me grow as a writer and journalist. As a staff writer I felt the rush of following and breaking a story on campus, like the unionization story at the Garderie Bernadette Child Care Centre. Moving on to the arts and culture editor position was a slight shift from writing news, but it allowed me to be creative and to engage with the many exhibits and live shows Ottawa has to offer. 

During the school year, I usually fall into a deep hole, where all I can think or worry about is getting my assignments in on time and catching up with my readings. So, forcing myself to go out to museums and galleries — even for the sake of an article — allowed me to take a break and remind myself that I might only have four years in this city, so I might as well explore it.

I’ve had so much fun writing for the Fulcrum, and I hope I have the opportunity to do so again next year. Although it’s sad to say goodbye to the friends I’ve made — particularly the ones who will be leaving for good — I’m excited to think about the new people I’ll meet next year, and hopefully get to work with too!

Jelena Maric, staff writer (2020-21) and social media manger (2021-22)

Jelena Maric. Photo: Jelena Maric/Fulcrum

I have spent the past two years with the Fulcrum, both as a staff writer and as the social media manager. To say it is bittersweet to leave the job that made me fall in love with journalism again, would be an understatement. 

Unlike others on our staff, I was a journalism major, having studied at Carleton University across town, which I guess makes me a bit of a two timer and backstabber. I spent two years volunteering with our rivals across town, The Charlatan, and several months working as their national editor. 

My experience working in student journalism and also being a journalism student during those two years was bleak and depressing, to say the least. I was unmotivated and falling out of love with both my program and my dream career that I had fantasized about since I was 17. 

As my contract with the Charlatan was ending and I was not re-elected to my position, a good friend of mine had suggested I apply to work with the Fulcrum as unlike with Carleton’s student newspaper, it was not a requirement to be a U of O student. I had decided to apply for the position of staff writer since my previous section editor position burnt me out. 

Charley, thanks for hiring one of two former Charlatan staff that year. To be blunt, the Fulcrum and the people who worked there, made me fall back in love with journalism. In essence, it saved my dreams. 

To Charley, my boss of two years and someone who I now consider a friend (despite never actually meeting in person), thank you for not only hiring me, but making me so much more self-confident in myself as a journalist. I suffered heavily from imposter syndrome, never believing I was good as a journalist, comparing myself to my peers in an, honestly, ruthless program. Your unwavering support and belief in me has not only impacted me, but my work. I’m good and now I know it. So thank you a million for that. 

Despite only having met one person from our staff in person, our former managing editor Emily who worked at the Charlatan as our sports editor when I did and who kept me company on production nights chain-smoking on the UC delivery dock and talking shit, I have fond memories of everyone. Not once did I feel left out or ostracized as I had before. I’m so grateful to have worked with such talented, hardworking, kind, funny and driven people. 

To everyone on our staff, both past and present. Thank you for an amazing two years. I think I’ll always look back on this time in my life with so much nostalgia and love. I’ll talk about my time with you when I’m old and gray. 

Now, can someone blast some Weezer? 

Amira Benjamin, freelancer (2019-20), features editor (2020-22)

Amira Benjamin. Photo: Hailey Otten/Fulcrum

Similar to Desiree, I’d actually known about the Fulcrum from research as an anxious high school student before I’d stepped foot on the U of O campus. I’m proud to say that I’ve been a part of the Fulcrum as a volunteer since 2019, and (as long as the hiring committee will have me) I’m eager to stay.

Working at the Fulcrum has not only helped to establish me in my writing skills and career goals but developed my general communication and analytical skills as a person. I’d been interested in journalism more or less since I was a kid, but I didn’t think it could actually become my reality until I first started contributing.  Let me tell you, writing seven-page papers has never been easier since I started as features editor. But I’ve also felt myself become more confident in my skills and assertive with my expectations. 

Now, onto the mushy bit.

Becoming a section editor in 2020 was really, really weird. I’d moved back to Ottawa but wasn’t fully comfortable going anywhere in the city aside from my friends’ apartment — and the office. So for most of that year, I became cozy in the lovely, dusty King Edward building and became fairly close with others on the editorial board over strategic planning memes and roasting the life out of Charley (which made him run for EIC for a second time). It was nice being in such a weird experience with others, who were also stressed, bored, and burnt out indoors.

The first month of the 2021-22 editorial board was quite literally unforgettable — from Charley’s niche scavenger hunt during our orientation (taking pictures of newsstands) to our frosh week barbeques (parts 1 and 2) to our basement edboard meetings, still trying to figure out the video and audio qualities. It was nice actually being with people and working together like a well-oiled machine.

This year, on nearly every level for me (as I’m sure is the case for others), has been up and down, but somehow contributors for my section and I have pumped out 1000-word articles throughout the entirety of it. From understanding part-time professorship to observing how our own breaking stories of the year came to be to highlighting the struggles of nursing students over the pandemic, I don’t think I’ve ever been more pleased to look back at the section I’ve cultivated for the past two years. 

To everyone who is leaving us, I’ll miss you a lot. Thanks for teaching me, in one way or another, everything I know about the Fulcrum and the world. To those who plan to return, I’m looking forward to seeing you again. Prepare to be sick of me. And to those who haven’t joined us — what are you waiting for?

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