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So, the long and arduous task of figuring out the most influential students is over. I would like to thank everyone who sent a nomination.

The entire thing started at the end of January when I was thinking about how we could put out a 28- or 32-page newspaper.

Stocking the shelves at the grocery store at which I work, I realized that we had never done any sort of special section like this before. My thought was to have students, faculty, staff, and librarians send in nominations to create “the 15 most influential students on campus.”

I posed the idea to the staff, who were very receptive to the idea. The work began.

As the planning was being done, one of our advisors, George Layng, and Matt Carlin, our assistant managing editor, asked if it was more wise to have only ten students instead of fifteen.

I sent out a flyer in the middle of February with the three questions that all of the nominators should answer.

They were, “How is the student influential?” “How does the student use their influence in a positive way?” and “What are lasting contributions that they have made to the university?”

A due date of Feb. 28 was set and the rest is history.

We received a multitude of nominations, and the task began to pick our ten.

The editorial board made the decision on the ten that were picked (did you think I was going to name the ten here?!) and needed to choose the order in which they would appear.

To do that, the board voted on where they thought each person should be. We then decided to put each person on slips of paper. We drew each name and wrote down each person as they were pulled out of a hat.

Overall, the different rankings each person ended up with did not differ all too much. The final ranking process is derived from the board voting and random selection process.

So, why March 21? This seems like an arbitrary date.

To be completely honest, a 32-page paper is a huge undertaking. This almost did not need to be said. On any given week, a 24-page paper is even a huge commitment.

In that case, what then allowed us to complete the 32-page paper that you are currently reading? The easy answer, then, is Spring Break.

During Spring Break, I came to campus to begin work on the project that would turn into countless hours of writing, creating layouts, and tweaking. When the final ten were selected, I sent an email to each of them. They were asked to submit the way their name should be spelled, hometown, major, and any special comment that they would like to include.

The task was then launched to write the “blurb” that would go with each person. The “blurbs,” which were between 250 and 375 words each, are about the achievements, influence, and long lasting contributions of each person.

While the “blurbs” were being written, I had to figure out the layout.

I have never planned a “top ten” section for anything, so figuring out how to lay something like this out over eight pages was a challenge.

On my side was my experience with the yearbook as a senior in high school.

You will notice when as you progress through the section that the eye should be inclined to move from the top of page 14 with number ten, to the bottom of the same page with number nine, then across to the bottom of page 15 with number eight, back up to the top with number seven, and so on.

Once you reach the fourth most influential student, you will notice that they have their own page. This was a conscious effort on my part, as I wanted to highlight the top four students with more photos, not necessarily more text.

The section is in full color, which prevented us from running color on the other pages that ordinarily have it, but it is more meaningful this way.

Another thing you’ll notice is that this section of the paper is in the dead center of the issue.

This is more for parents and relatives, then anything. Simply remove the staples and take the section out of the paper and you’ll be left with a 24-page newspaper and an eight-page pullout.

Efforts will be executed to keep as many copies of this issue as possible so that anyone that wants extra copies can get them.

If you have any questions or comments about “the 10 most influential students on campus,” please address to me at thevoice@westfield.ma.edu.

Students at Westfield are nothing like UMass Amherst students

I am not going to address the Blarney Blowout specifically, other than to say that there were Westfield State students there and I know that some of them got pepper-sprayed.

The fact of the matter is that there is the notion amongst residents in the city of Westfield that students from this university are unruly and misbehaved.

While it is true that there may be some students who are the way that the residents portray them to be, the thing to keep in mind is that they are in the minority. A severe minority, in fact.

Westfield State students by-and-large are thoughtful, insightful, and courteous.

We help out with HOOT Day, Relay for Life, Buzz-off for Cancer, Out of the Darkness and Into the Light walk, countless blood drives, an annual Turkey Drive, and an innumerate number of different other community service projects.

Our Student Government Association, with over sixty-five senators, is an incredibly powerful force in the university and community alike, ensuring that the university is always contributing in a positive way to the city of Westfield.

While the students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst participate in their community in similar ways, the media has certainly painted a broad brush.

But it is true that the city of Amherst has a larger problem with unruly and inconsiderate students. The Blarney Blowout is evidence of that.

So this leads to the question that our downtown Westfield neighbors need to ask themselves: Are Westfield State students in any way similar to the students at the UMass Amherst?

If the answer to that question is no, then their points are moot and they can work toward building a better community with us.

If the answer to that question is yes, then they need to come to campus and look at all of the work that we are doing.

I will personally offer myself as a tour guide if necessary. The work of this university is too positive and enlightening to be undone by the few students who do not represent the overall reality that the majority of our student body lives everyday.

 

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