OPINION: Does my opinion truly matter?

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Hailey Stessman
OPINION EDITOR

Although it seems daunting, sharing your opinion holds value for not just the university but also for yourself. Graphic by Hailey Stessman/The Gateway

It seems like just yesterday I was a freshman in college, a bit too overenthusiastic and oblivious to what the next four years had in store for me.

I remember little eighteen-year-old Hailey in her bright yellow rain jackets riding the shuttle to attend her very first college class with a stomach full of nerves and a backpack full of unnecessary books. (Here, let me paint a picture for you. It was pouring rain on that August morning, and while I thought I came prepared with a cute rain jacket, nothing could prevent my boots from filling up with water as I walked up and down the length of the campus searching for the Milo Bail Student Center.)

8:30 am, JMC 2000 – Information Literacy for Communication Professionals

 Although I had no idea what the course exactly entailed, I was just eager to truly feel like a college student. Still not familiar with the layout of the campus, I initially began walking in the direction of the Weber Fine Arts building in hopes of finding the Arts and Sciences Hall. (Rookie mistake, might I add). After quickly realizing my mistake, I turned around and prepared for the trek toward ASH but once again stopped my tracks in front of the library. A black box, coming up to my hips in height, was placed to the right of the library’s main entrance with the covers of three newspapers framed in neat little windows: The New York Times, USA Today, and The Gateway.

I was entering college declared as a Journalism and Media Communication major with my concentration in Journalism. My time as a writer for my high school’s yearbook committee ignited a desire within me to seek out stories and voices in the nooks and crannies of America that deserve to be heard. So drenched from head to toe despite my lucky yellow rain jacket, I grabbed a copy of The Gateway and tucked it into my jacket to avoid getting wet in the rain.

My freshman heart was aflutter. It was surreal to be holding the publication that could possibly lead me to the world of journalism on the very first day of my college career.

Now as a third-year student, I am in my second year as The Gateway’s Opinion Editor. Despite the struggles that may come with holding an editing position for a publication, it would be a lie to say that I haven’t learned anything these past two years.

Much has changed since I stepped off that shuttle in the fall of 2018, including my major, but there is one sentiment that I still believe to be true.

Your opinion matters.

Reading the stories that contributors have sent into the Opinion Section over the months has solidified the claim that UNO is home to a diverse student body. There are a multitude of opinions present amongst both classrooms and organizations that have yet to be heard. But why haven’t those opinions been shared? What is stopping them?

With every opinion in any situation, there are at least twenty opinions waiting in response. Human beings are judgemental– it runs through our veins. It can be frightening to place yourself in a vulnerable position where you can easily be judged and ridiculed by strangers. For some, there is also a valid fear of your peers knowing your personal beliefs and opinions. Although taking the leap to share your opinion to a public audience is incredibly daunting, it is immensely gratifying to know that your feelings can create change for the better. Not to mention, reading your published writing in print, whether in physical copy or digitally on a website, is a thoroughly pleasant experience.

When you share your opinion to the general public, you are offering up an invitation to start a conversation that could eventually lead to action in your favor. Opinions, especially opinions regarding your surrounding environment such as a university, shed awareness on a certain topic with the hope that it will enact change.

You don’t need to have a background in journalism or be an exquisitely skilled writer. All you need is your passion to fight for what you believe in.

Try to channel that same mindset I felt when gripping my own copy of The Gateway to my chest against the pouring rain on my first day.

“I don’t care how, or even if my newspaper gets wet, but I’m going to make it.”

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