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People in between in the lines

Column/Ellen L. Spero

The Tech really hates students and their activities. The people there are selfish and arrogant. They care about nothing but themselves.

That's right, for over 104 years, our reason for existing has been to harm and belittle students. We work day and night merely to accomplish this end and gratify our already inflated superiority complex.

The pleasure of seeing the name Ellen L. Spero on top of this column and knowing that my efforts further the demise of student interests gratifies my ego enough to last me the rest of my waking hours.

In all seriousness, I am not a martyr and neither is any Tech staffer. I will be the first to admit that there are benefits from being on staff. Yet, there is something beyond the fringe benefits: the bylines, the free food, and the outstanding opportunities to learn -- something beyond the resume listing and the friends.

Something that keeps us coming back.

The thrill of seeing one's name in print wears off quickly. A title can go on a resume after just one day on the job and without spending half the night struggling to get a piece the way you know it should be. Grades often go down exponentially over time at The Tech. And some people can't find thesis advisors.

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Yet people keep coming back.

The true cause is less obvious and often comes later, after the immediate fringe benefits have worn off. This cause is stronger -- much stronger. It is why so many people have committed so much to the paper.

It is simply the satisfaction that comes from knowing that we have put out the best paper we could, that we have given it our all, from knowing that the paper gets better with each contribution.

Above all, there is the drive. The drive to get better, because we know that there is so much further to go. There is so much more to cover, so much more to do.

It is the drive that comes from having to say, "If only we could..." one week, pushing us to try harder the next. And the satisfaction of saying "We did it," the next week pushes us further.

The Tech, like all organizations, suffers from a shortage of people. There are not enough staff hours to allow us to cover everything of interest, or importance, to the community, everything the paper wants to.

If we do not cover some event, it is because we cannot. A trade-off exists between conserving these limited resources and trying to publish the best student news-<>

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paper possible. We must accept that if we exceed our resources by too much, if we push our staff past its limit, we will collapse. Burned-out staffers who passed those limits litter the history of The Tech.

Yet we strive.

And with each miss, comes the grief. Following the grief, comes the determination to try harder and do better next time.

The Tech's primary purpose, according to its constitution, "shall be to publish a newspaper on a regular basis, and to provide experience in journalism and publishing for students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."

Implicit is the goal of publishing a respectable newspaper and to provide the best experience possible. Sometimes these goals conflict with each other. Sometimes, the paper's quality is not what it could be, because we wish to provide the experience in journalism and publishing. Sometimes, the paper's quality is not what it should be, because even Tech editors have to sleep.

The commitment pays off ultimately. Only with the tolerance of mistakes, can we expect to learn. Only if we are given the chance to learn, can we publish the best paper we can.

Only then will more people keep coming back.

And Kaliski found God.