What Does the Voice Mean to You?

What Does the Voice Mean to You?

By:
04/05/2019

I turned this in late. Actually, I wasn’t given a firm deadline, so I might have turned it in at the deadline or, and this is borderline delusional, early. No, it wasn’t early.

Writers, cartoonists, and the ad folks never turned in anything early. That is one of my enduring memories of my time as the managing editor of the Voice. I graduated in May 1982. I began writing for the Voice as a freshman. I was incredibly honored in the fall of my junior year to be asked to take on a leadership role as the managing editor. My mother, the food editor at the Courier Post in Camden, N.J., tried to sound pleased for me when I shared my news over Thanksgiving or Jewish Christmas (i.e., Chinese food and a movie); I can’t recall exactly when it happened. My uncle, who worked for The Philadelphia Bulletin, just laughed. Thinking back to that day, I now know that I was too young and dumb to understand their reactions. At the time, I just assumed they didn’t get it. After all, I was a junior at a really good college. I was in the SFS. I spoke good enough Spanish and could quote Thomas Merton. I had even slogged through something like 20 or 30 pages of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason. I knew a lot of things. What did my family know?

It turns out that my mother was right. (Please, do not share this with her). My uncle was right, too, but the newspaper gods soon got even with him when The Bulletin ceased operating in January 1982.

Serving as the managing editor wasn’t an awful job, but it had its headaches. One night, with a majority of staffers out with some illness, I left the offices late and feeling sick myself. I left with promises that the cartoon for the next day’s paper was “on the way.” I awoke to a paper without a cartoon. The space was filled with a doctored picture of Reagan and Bush that made an idiotic political point. For my sin of leaving early and not knowing what would fill the cartoon’s place, I had to answer the angry letters that poured in over the next month or so.

Most of my memories from the Voice are of working with terrific people who put in long hours for the paper and took enormous pride in what we produced each week. I remember the legendary Helen Thomas coming to our offices to talk journalism. I remember dining with Father Freeze to discuss our editorial that criticized the University for recruiting Patrick Ewing. I’ll never forget the pride and terror of having the Washington Post and later Newsweek pick up a Voice story on the high number of abortions among Georgetown students (relative to George Washington and American students). A source at Planned Parenthood provided the details, and we editorialized that the complete absence of contraceptives at the student health center was no doubt at least partially to blame.

I’m now officially old enough to have foggy memories of my undergraduate days, but I do know that being a part of the Voice was one of the best things I did at Georgetown. I drove a GUTS bus to help pay my way, but I worked on the Voice because I loved it.

I’m a loyal alum who gives to the Annual Fund every year. Most years I interview 10-15 high schoolers in my area for admissions. And I’m enough of a sports fan to understand that we should have never opposed recruiting Patrick Ewing. The Voice was an important part of my time at Georgetown, and it remains so. While I skim the many emails I get from the University, SFS, the Admission Office, etc., I read carefully and with pride the online version of the Voice. It has been and will continue to be such an important part of Georgetown for me and countless others. I couldn’t be prouder to have been part of it.

Joel Wolfe (SFS ’82) was Managing Editor in Spring and Fall of 1981

Image Credits: Olivia Stevens

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Joel Wolfe


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