Coming back to campus felt surreal, perhaps still yet. When you turn into a junior, like me, the campus starts to get smaller, not in the literal sense. I mean that my group of friends reduces, but that does not mean it is a bad thing, the complete opposite.

This year, the plan is for me to remain only one semester on campus and the following spring semester will be abroad. The plan is to go to The Hague, in The Netherlands. So I am living with five other people in a suite. We share a common space, but each has their own room, which is always nice if you ever just need to retreat yourself from others. Everyone needs some alone time; you know how it goes.

Nonetheless, these are my people. I get along well with each and every single one of them. I have had the opportunity to open myself with them all and we’ve done a few things to get closer to one another. I really feel I have found my niche in this place called Brandeis. Once I realized I had my group of friends, I stopped scouting for new friends or trying to work out the ones that just didn’t work out, a task that is like trying to mix water and oil. It comes a time, especially when you’re officially an upperclassman, that you stop searching and you start digging—furthering those friendships. Sometimes it requires compromising and giving more than you receive (at least that’s what you may think at some point), but you also get a lot in return.

In other aspects, this is perhaps the first semester I am taking all good fun classes, while at the same time fulfilling graduating requirements. By the end of this fifth semester, I will have completed all my university requirements and I will only need two more courses to fulfill one of my majors. I was thinking today. I wished I had only chosen one major, so that I could have had more fun exploring the many fields that there are to fulfill. Although, another part of me thought that I was just being ambitious, since I have explored varied subjects since day one.

Anyway, in other aspects, besides taking five courses this semester, I am trying to work at my old job in Human Resources and my job with the journalist center. This year, they have me switch journalists, but the work has not started yet because the journalist is supposed to send me the documents I am supposed to analyze from Tijuana, Mexico. It’ll take a few days for it to arrive to the Northeast.

On that journalistic note, I really am enjoying doing journalistic tasks. I tried to hold my position as writer for The Brandeis Hoot, but the editor for the opinions’ section has not been very nice to me this year. To be honest, the person has been a little passive aggressive with me without knowing why.

The first week back on campus I wrote intending to write an article, the person responded rebuffing. Usually, the editor will send out emails inviting op-ed writers to write, but this time it is as if the editor is trying to get rid of me or something. Conspiracy? Who knows. I assumed the editor had enough on plate for that issue. So I decide to write another for this past week, I even sent it early. I checked early Friday the published issue. It was nowhere. I had written about a topic I am passionate about: DACA students, the policy and the students who are on that status here at Brandeis and how it affected them. I was more infuriated by the fact that the editor played dumb and said that had not idea what had happened and why all of a sudden my article did not feature. An editor knows what features and what doesn’t, I just know how it is run. I would have appreciated feedback, honesty. I can take it, really. That is what writers do. Write, revise, rewrite, revise again and again and again. I said that in fact. I asked what was wrong, how can I fix it. No answer.

I am not angry it didn’t get published; I am angry the editor is so incompetent to not care about the writers who produce the column. Thus, I decided to do the following. I had already another article in line. I was going to write about a student’s personal experience living through Hurricane Harvey and her trajectory to get back to campus. I had conducted the interview a week ago, I only had to put every piece together. I gathered my pen, took notes of the most important parts of the recording, grabbed my computer at 2 in the morning, and typed as if I were possessed. The next morning, I sent the article through email to the competition. As a matter of fact, there are two newspapers at Brandeis, the other one named The Justice.

To be honest, I feel truly great about having made that decision because I should not stick in a place where I am not respected and my work is devalued. I like my new editor, she is a black empowered woman and I feel she understands better what it is like to be a minority writer, especially when the school’s newspaper is plagued with only Caucasian writers. This other editor for The Justice makes me go through two drafts and fact-check and personal meeting with her, which is something The Brandeis Hoot never, in the two years I wrote for it, did.

It has only been two weeks since school started, but I am definitely loving this semester. Aside from my suite friends, I see my other non-suite friends. I do want to dedicate them as much time as I can possibly can, be supportive when they have troubles, go out to brunch, make memories… Some of them, sadly, are seniors. I have three close friends with whom this is the last semester they and I are going to be at the same place and time of our undergraduate career. After this semester, I will most likely be abroad and they’ll stay here for their eighth and last semester and dive into the real world. Hasta luego. So, I am trying to take every day as a valuable day to be here at Brandeis and just let time come as it comes.

This place, again, has challenged me and nurtured me more in the past two weeks than I regularly do when I am not here. What is it about this place? More to come. Stay tuned.


Santiago Montoya