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Decade in review

 

This week’s Gazette is the final issue of the 2015-2016 school year. This is the time of the year when outgoing editors are supposed to reflect on their tenure with the paper.

This is kind of a big moment for me—the end of an era. I’ve been an editor for the last two years now, but I’ve been writing for the Gazette for much, much longer. Coincidentally, this issue actually marks the ten-year publication anniversary of my first Gazette article.

To put that amount of time into perspective, back when I nervously “Hotmailed” in my first piece, the Gazette was still making jokes about our creepy new Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and students were marveling over the incomprehensibly wonderful Snakes on a Plane trailer. It would take another six months before we first acknowledged the existence of Facebook in our pages (Facebook was “Hot.” Myspace was “Not.”)

This anniversary is significant, so I figure I owe something beyond the typical year in review—to do it justice, I need to reflect on an entire decade of student and societal progress. Given that I’ve been writing for the Gazette since the average 2015-2016 freshman was in the third grade though, I’m having a little difficulty trying to sum up how far we’ve come in 700 words or less.

I mean think about where we were as a society back in 2006. The US government’s debacle of a response to Hurricane Katrina was still fresh in our minds, and many people were deeply upset due to a perception that elected officials and authority figures simply didn’t believe that black lives mattered. Thankfully, with the historic election of Barack Obama in 2008, we managed to heal those ancient wounds and transition into the glorious new post-racial utopia we inhabit today.

On the other side of the world, things were looking pretty bleak in Iraq back in 2006. Suicide bombings. An entrenched extremist insurgency. Poorly trained Iraqi government soldiers who were utterly unprepared for the task of fighting battle-hardened militants. Luckily the Sunni Awakening and the American troop surge of 2007 turned the tide against religious fanaticism in the region, facilitating Obama’s triumphant conclusion of the US occupation in 2011. Mission Accomplished!

And what about climate change? Back in 2006, that issue was pretty much the only thing on any of our lips. An Inconvenient Truth came out that spring and woke us all up to the terrifying consequences of delaying action on climate change for even a moment longer. Now, ten years later, we can look back proudly at the impressive steps we’ve taken to protect the planet for future generations. When faced with our darkest hour, we stood up together, looked long and hard at the serious personal sacrifices that we all needed to make if we were to halt the advance of global warming, and gave Al Gore both an Oscar AND a Nobel Prize. Captain Planet would be bursting with pride over what we’ve accomplished—you know, assuming he hadn’t mysteriously died of dehydration last year.

Closer to home are the sweeping changes that the past decade has brought to the typical student experience. This may be hard to believe, but back in 2006, tuition costs were absolutely crippling. Nova Scotian schools charged the highest rates in the country, and student politicians regularly ran on promises to fight fee increases and end student debt. At the same time, Sexton students complained that the DSU and its levied societies were ignoring their needs, while controversial events in the Middle East provoked never-ending, heated debates about whether Canada ought to support or shun Israel.
Really, it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in ten short years!

…okay, so maybe a few minor things like global military disputes, impending environmental catastrophes, seething racial tensions, and literally every significant student complaint haven’t really changed since I started with the Gazette.

Our phones though—man did they suck back in 2006. We’re talking $600, top-of-the-line models with no touch screens, limited internet access, and 0.3 megapixel cameras. Selfies had resolutions more commonly associated with Sasquatch snapshots, and we were still a full year away from the first generation iPhone.  We’ve come a long way since those dark days. The gleaming perfection of the iPhone SE is a testament to our inspiring collective ability to identify and overcome society’s greatest evils—no matter how much money we have to throw at Apple to make that 12 megapixel, 4K-video-recording camera fit into four inches of sleek, oh-so-stylish inspiration.

And with that, I’m officially running over my intended word count (yet another thing that hasn’t changed in the past decade).

This has been fun, Dalhousie. To those who I’ve met and corresponded with over the years—readers, writers, and fellow editors—thanks for helping making my tenure with the Gazette the highlight of my time here at Dal.

To my fiancée Shannon, who has spent the last two years saving my ass with smart, salty, 800-word feminist rants every time a contributor pulled out on me at the last minute, I thank you for helping to preserve the surviving shards of my sanity that would surely have shattered without your support.

Finally, to my wonderful mom Margaret, who has been bugging me to mention her in an article for the past decade (“You know John, there’s nothing uncool about letting the other boys know you love your mother”), I’d like to say thank you for compelling me to spend my middle-school Friday afternoons writing short stories that incorporated your crazy handpicked vocabulary lists. In retrospect, at age 13, I may have been just a little premature in declaring that I already knew all of the “good words.”

Alas, to borrow the parting words of our original editors back in 1869, “space, that inexorable master of all editors, forbids [me] from saying more.”

 

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John Hillman
John Hillman
John Hillman is the Gazette's Opinions Editor. John is a second-year law student, but he has been at Dalhousie for much longer than that. Recently discovered cave paintings indicate he was first observed lurching around campus by Halifax’s original human settlers some time during the late Pleistocene epoch. He started writing for the Gazette back when you were in elementary school, but he unexpectedly went off the grid a half-decade ago to concentrate on helping found Punditry.ca, a DSU-focused political blog. Where exactly was he hiding between the years 2009-2013? Certain individuals would prefer he not comment. Why has he returned? Not because of a top-secret Illuminati indoctrination project known only as the Omega Initiative, that’s for sure. You can email John at opinions@dalgazette.com.
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