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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Who gives a f*** about an Oxford Comma?

 I do, Vampire Weekend. I do

 

By ANNE THISELTON-DYER

 

Here’s a secret they won’t tell you: When you are hired as a copy editor at The Aggie, they blindfold you, lead you into the darkened office basement and force you to swear a blood oath agreeing to join the anti-Oxford comma movement. At that moment, you must abandon whatever high-minded ideals you’ve held about clarifying the meaning of serialized lists by separating the last two items. You must leave what you thought you knew behind in the name of consistency, journalistic integrity and AP Style, plunging into the deep, dark and comma-less unknown. Be warned – after they took me, nothing was the same.

As just exhibited, I have struggled to find profound reflective merit in my college experience, instead resorting to humor. For one, I’m not even a senior; I’m just graduating early. Also, my job on The Aggie primarily consisted of copy editing, which I loved enough to do for three years, but for some crazy reason, I am struggling to romanticize. What could possibly be nostalgic about spending three years converting your brain into a portable writing style guide? you may ask. Also, Anne, why were you so worked up about the Oxford comma a minute ago? (Sit tight, we’ll get to that.) Really, though, I think the main reason I am struggling is because it is much, much easier to joke than to say goodbye.

Through the crazy, terrifying and world-altering events that have happened since I received my UC Davis acceptance letter, The Aggie has been my home base. I was immediately drawn toward working on a newspaper in college. As a die-hard member of my high school publication, student journalism was familiar to me in a time when both my life and the world were wrought with radical change; I slowly settled into the routine of editing The Aggie while attending meetings on Zoom from my childhood bedroom. 

Later that year, when Sabine and I were promoted to copy chiefs, I entered what would grow into an amazing partnership. We had the privilege of leading an even more amazing copy desk. To our copy readers, thank you for your constant dedication and expertise. And Sabine, if you’re reading this, thank you for always having my back. I’m going to miss our super awkward interviews and distribution antics.

From “Thursday Thoughts” to tabling to Woodstocks Trivia, along with other things that don’t start with a T, The Aggie has come to define my time at UC Davis, and I am so incredibly grateful to have been a part of it. It grounded me through a college experience that I can only compare to a joyride in a washing machine set to maximum spin. I apologized a lot. I dropped school for a quarter. I dyed my hair to mark the passage of time. I failed some classes. I made friends and lost them. I wrote a poem that a girl in my workshop described as “baller.” But through it all, I could depend on The Aggie.

So really, I could lecture on the importance of accuracy in journalism, or of upholding correct names and pronouns and fact-checking. I could reminisce about desk meetings, parties and the friends I made. But all I can think about is the Oxford comma. In typical 18-year-old nerd fashion, I was so mad during training when current copy chiefs Kaitlyn and Alex told us that The Aggie didn’t use it. I planned to stay upset, to rise to the top just to bring this nonsense to an end. I would become Editor-in-Chief for this reason and this reason only! But not much went according to plan. There was so much to learn, and like all good things, it was over before I knew it. 

And now that I’m (nearly) released from my contract, I’ll say it: thank you to my spectacular, talented, and hardworking friends at The Aggie. The Oxford Comma lives!!!

 

Anne Thiselton-Dyer is one of The California Aggie’s current Copy Chiefs. She joined The Aggie in October 2020 as a copy reader. The following year in June 2021, she took on the role of Copy Chief, where she has remained ever since. She is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in economics.