Letter from the Editor, November 2022
By Claire Shang
A good deal of the pieces this issue are, in various ways, about New York, which is to say they are about landmarks and institutions, appearances and disillusionments; about trying to describe the city’s happenings so precisely that you can imagine finding yourself under it all. The city we live in can hardly be considered a theme, though, so I’ll say instead that this month we are accepting familiarity and looking within it for something new.
Mining meaning everywhere, our writers found it in block-long bagel lines and volunteer-run bookstores and paper bags of leftover food. We looked under the well-maintained hedges on campus, leaving no shrub unconsidered. We even did the impossible: discover real-world implications in something as demonstrably vacuous as college rankings.
We confront the city more directly, too. We wonder what New York means when it doesn’t just signal newness, either because we grew up here and never left or because we’ve spent a summer hearing the stories of New Yorkers who feel they’ve been here for lifetimes.
We are learning how to be fully in the present without simply slipping into the stagnancy of the status quo. A handful of pieces in this issue trace how an institution manages to change, whether it’s the story of how Columbia’s film program came to be or how the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race is finding its way to new recognition—perhaps even department status. This month’s Campus Character, too, describes their spectrum of successes enacting changes at institutions as varied as Columbia, the Met, and the Anchorage School District.
Within the familiar frame of the magazine, too, things are changing all of the time. You might think putting out a monthly magazine—one with weekly meetings at the same time; one that even uses Slack to communicate—would become relatively routine after you’ve done it a few times. But each issue is defined by its unpredictability, its newness. In this one, we’re particularly excited: We’ve welcomed a fall cohort of brilliantly creative new staffers. The crossword is back! Our poetry and prose columns have both made their way into the print magazine. There’s lots to read, so get to it, and we’ll convene next month, finding meaning in other pockets of this campus and city.