Had I not joined the Daily freshman year, I doubt I would have ever learned just how many people on campus think it sucks. Large swaths of students have told me this over the past three years, in no uncertain terms. Often “The Daily sucks” is the literal phrase they use. “I only pick it up for the crosswords/Sudoku” is another common utterance. “Why didn’t you cover my fundraising event?” probably comes in a distant third.

If you’ve said any of these things, I have no desire at this point in the game to convince you otherwise. That’s your prerogative, and I’m sorry you didn’t feel we adequately served your needs during your time here. All I can say is that things look a little different from my end.

On a purely selfish note, I would never have had the opportunity to attend my first film festival, interview the two heftiest people in show business (Michael Moore and Kevin Smith, not to brag or anything) or walk through the hallowed halls of Pixar had it not been for the Daily. But I didn’t do this just for the trips and interviews.

No, the true value of groups like the Daily lies in the social interactions. Without the Daily as a common ground, I never would have found an organization of people who share my obsessive urge to talk about issues as seemingly trivial as the critical respectability of Roger Ebert or the number of pop-culture references made on the previous night’s “Community”. And without those people at the Daily, it’s all too likely I would have spent my time at Michigan as an isolated, socially inept film buff instead of as an outgoing, somewhat socially accepted film buff.

My iPod would also be missing half its library if I had never joined the Daily, which is the true test of lasting personal impact. Now anytime I blast The Hold Steady’s “Sequestered in Memphis” or K’naan’s “Somalia,” the experience will be inexorably tied to memories of dance parties and mix CDs, the origins of which can be traced back to — yes — the Daily. This paper was my impetus for most of what made college awesome, just as I’m sure activities like Dance Marathon, club sports or Greek life were for many of you.

Look, four years on a campus like Michigan demands a well-rounded experience. And you’re always going to leave wishing you could have done more. I consider myself lucky to have done all I was able to, which included exploding out of the Big House tunnel alongside the rest of the marching band for three football seasons. But there was still so much else out there I didn’t touch. The bucket list is bottomless. The more you do, the more you wish you’ve done.

But the more you do, the more you realize this was the place for you. When I leave Ann Arbor in just a little over two weeks (holy shit!), I’ll become just another old fogey ranting about how Michigan was better when I was there. So will you. It’s unavoidable, like being mocked at Blimpy Burger or Woody Allen’s annual flirtation with mediocrity. And as much as I dread that day happening, the fact is that I still took advantage of more than my fair share of opportunities here. And maybe you did, too.

Hopefully some Daily article, at some point, resonated with you. But if anyone asks, you’ll probably still say the Daily sucks. Hey, don’t look at me. It was better when I was in it.

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