Death of a column


This marks my 25th and final column. I know what you are thinking: "That's a lot of wasted time." It also means that on 24 other occasions, you could have read my opinions but instead likely used this page to clean up spilled beer, stay protected from the rain or line a birdcage. It's OK — I am not easily offended. I am just glad my thoughts were used for something productive. I can't often say that anymore. The cancer that is senioritis has recently turned malignant.

But some people did read this column, or at least are extraordinarily talented at pretending. And over the last two years, I have written articles both serious and silly. Unfortunately, most people thought my serious articles were just plain silly and somehow took my silly articles way too seriously — oh well.

Today then is the proverbial death of this column. Before it dies, though, there is some business to be taken care of — people to thank, profound reflections to be made, regrets to be reconciled and so forth and so on. Consider this the eulogy.

For the record, the name for this column was meant to be a shot at Fox News' supremely ironic catch phrase, "Fair and Balanced" — I hope this much was obvious. In that vein, I started writing two Septembers ago with a piece poking fun at then relatively unknown Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Interestingly enough, little has changed since that time. Both Palin and Fox, now as one team, do exceedingly well to make conservatives look really really bad. But that is a topic I have already covered, and I do not feel like getting any more death threats, so let's keep it moving.

I cannot conclude this column without giving credit to where it is due. That being said, I only started writing because of one particularly talented columnist for The Daily Targum who came before me, Ed Fu. Fu, whose column "Grain of Salt" passed on two years ago, used to write remarkably entertaining pieces on topics that could only be relevant to students on campus and did so at a time when the Targum had a sense of humor. Today, of course, I'm told this is a serious paper, and serious papers apparently do not allow for lighthearted satirical pieces. I hope the Chinese ruling party — I mean editors — do not take this last bit out.

In any case, being a columnist has had its perks. There is absolutely nothing more gratifying than having a completely random stranger approach you to discuss how much they enjoyed your article. That sure would have been nice.

Conversely, there's nothing worse than meeting an attractive girl and thinking "I really hope she doesn't read the opinions section." Fortunately, we are at a state school, where attractive girls would never read something that is not required for class. I should have figured this one out sooner.

It is also worth noting that writing once every two weeks is not very often. Naturally, those of us with multiple ideas for columns have had to scrap potentially promising ones along the way. To name just a few, I would have loved to release my exposé pieces covering University President Richard L. McCormick's true identity as a garden gnome, how Cap and Skull is rigging the Rutgers University Student Assembly elections, and the University's plan to encourage more students to become super seniors for the dual purposes of greater campus "diversity" as well as increased revenue — but mostly increased revenue.

Although I started this column with political opinions, it has largely become my personal commentary on the way I see things here on campus. No, there is not an apology forthcoming. Rather, this column cannot be put to rest peacefully without some final thoughts on my college experience.

First, I have never understood how so many people can attend class so infrequently. I have also never understood how curves can be so generous. These things may be correlated. Either way, I have profited generously from this arrangement, so thank you underachievers — you've written my ticket to law school.

But overachievers are an equally integral part of this university. To all the people who would see me walk into the library and have that "you again?" expression on their face —not to worry, I was thinking something much meaner when I saw you. And for anyone contemplating a senior thesis, be forewarned: At the point where you get possessive over your favorite spot at the library and your friends give up on even calling you, you may want to think things through.

As for me personally, I have studied economics and history pretty much continuously for four years. Everything I have learned is as follows: From economics I have discovered that economists are really good at telling us why things happened in the past, but not so great at explaining what's going to occur in the future (see the current recession). Essentially they are just historians with cool-looking graphs. Studying history for four years, I have learned that we will never know what truly happened in the past, but just how people have interpreted these things. So while economists pretend to know about the future, historians pretend to know about the past. That said, it is still far better than studying philosophy, where they actually waste your time teaching you why you don't actually know anything at all. But again, I have made fun of liberal arts enough in previous articles. No need for more hate mail.

Academics aside, we all know that this university is about way more than schoolwork. And for all the great student organizations and opportunities we have outside of the classroom, most of the worthiest memories are not those organized through any student group. Forget Rutgersfest, cultural events, Hot Dog Day and whatever other activities we are provided in order to distract us from our daily grind, there is nothing as remarkable as the first really warm day during springtime. Walking down College Avenue and seeing the campus transform into an array of colorful dresses, Frisbees, footballs and happy people is nothing short of bliss. It's on these days that we remember that we are still just kids, and this is still just college. The real world will never be this great. It's these memories, and all the great people that come with them, that make going to school here worth all the missed buses and closed course sections. I've used this column to criticize this school extensively, but I will miss it dearly. R.I.P. Unfair and Unbalanced.

Eric Knecht is Rutgers College senior majoring in history and economics. His column, Unfair and Unbalanced, has garnered a fair share of criticism over the past two years. He thanks you for reading.


Eric Knecht

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