Guest: How my role as The Aggie’s copy chief has influenced my perspective of UC Davis

ALEXA FONTANILLA / AGGIE

A year in reflection: What I’ve learned from editing each and every Aggie article

When I tell people that I’m the copy chief at The California Aggie I often get blank stares or looks of confusion. This is probably related to the fact that people literally think I make paper copies or they simply don’t know what copy is. Those who have exposure to journalism, on the other hand, tend to view copy editing as a necessary task that they would rather hand off to someone else. Personally, however, I think my job is underrated.

Each week, whether I like it or not, I read and edit every article produced by The Aggie before its publication. Admittedly, this does sound monotonous — even I have moments when my job feels repetitive (the next time I have to edit an article about Linda Katehi I might break my computer). That being said, my role as copy chief has given me the opportunity to be a fly on the wall for everything that happens on campus and within the community. Thanks to the weekly editing process and my uncomfortably good memory, I have essentially turned into a walking almanac on all things Davis. After nearly two years at the copy desk, I thought it’d be a good time to share some of the discoveries I’ve made from reading through countless Aggie articles.

 

  1. No community is exempt from discrimination and violence, but we’re pretty lucky

The Davis community has the reputation of being an extremely welcoming and safe place to live. Unfortunately, college towns also bring instances of crime and negativity that are unavoidable, as was shown by a number of events this year. Most notable was the series of hate crimes directed toward the Davis Islamic Center, one in January and another in June. Both crimes involved vandalism and directly targeted Muslim practices. UC Davis was also faced with a few safety concerns, one involving a horror movie-esque clown lingering in West Village with a knife and another involving two armed men approaching a fraternity house in Parkway Circle. Continually, events relating to Milo Yiannopoulos’ campus appearance and recent reporting on sexual violence have exemplified the many controversies that exist within Davis.

As shocking and hurtful as each of these incidents were, the resilience and passion shown by the people of Davis are true testaments to why the community earned its welcoming reputation in the first place. Alongside each act of violence were signs of solidarity and support. Religious groups gathered together at a Statement of Love event to show togetherness with the Islamic Center, students rallied against rape culture and the UC Davis Police implemented a safety walk to ensure that campus is well-lit at night. Although it’s impossible to expect a community to be free of crime, hate and violence, it’s the ability of our people to come together in support of each other that makes us unique — I look forward to seeing students’ future progress in creating a respectful and safe university environment.

 

  1. There’s no stereotypical UC Davis student

Journalism is nothing without good interviews, and Aggie staff writers interact with countless students, staff and community members each week. As the copy chief, it’s my job to look over each interviewee’s information, such as major, job title and year in school. Over time, I’ve noticed that Davis students are especially diverse when it comes to what they’re involved in on campus — no two students have the same combination of majors, minors, sports, jobs and other activities. It never fails to surprise me when I see a student who, for example, is a biomedical engineering and theater and dance double major with a minor in women’s and gender studies who also works at the CoHo, interns at The Dairy and codes in his or her free time (I know you’re out there).

I think this is typical for two reasons: UC Davis students love to expose themselves to different activities and groups of people, and the university provides opportunities in a wide range of disciplines. Unlike other schools, people’s hobbies don’t always match up with what they are studying or their future plans, but what’s more important is that students are open to fully embracing what they love to do. I’m no stranger to this. As an Aggie staff member, people automatically assume that I’m an English major, but in truth I love math and data analytics and I’m studying managerial economics. By witnessing what my peers are passionate about within Aggie articles, I’ve learned to express myself and make the things I love to do a priority.

 

  1. Davis isn’t boring — just make sure you keep an open mind

When I was a high schooler in San Diego, all I knew about Davis was that there are a lot of vet students and even more cows. Even as a first-year student, I still thought that Davis was somewhat boring compared to universities located in big cities. Since then, I’ve discovered that Davis is actually incredibly entertaining, as long as you’re willing to keep an open mind and embrace your weird side every once in awhile. Thanks to features, campus and arts articles published by The Aggie, I’ve learned about quite a few of Davis’ hidden treasures. One example of Davis’ quirky entertainment is the physics cats, a group of stray cats that live behind the Physics Building in miniature homes constructed by students. Another personal favorite are the Arboretum’s river otters that swim in Putah Creek — admittedly, I didn’t believe they were real until I saw them for myself. If animals aren’t your thing, the Mondavi Center also offers countless concerts, guest speakers and other events throughout the year. I also love to people-watch at the Farmers Market, hike around Lake Berryessa, stroll by the domes and attend campus-sponsored events at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum, as well as the Quad.

 

I’m so grateful that working as copy chief has helped me navigate the ins and outs of UC Davis and I look forward to continuing to get a behind-the-scenes look at the many exciting, noteworthy and comical events that take place in the future.

Now that you know what copy is, please remember that if you ever find a grammatical mistake in The Aggie, it’s probably my fault, but it’s one in the hundreds of articles I read every quarter — nobody’s perfect.

Written by: Olivia Rockeman — copy@theaggie.org

 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.