Writing this column is hard. What I want more than anything is to come here and positively reflect on the organization that I have dedicated the past two years of my life to managing and growing, but I don’t feel that I can right now. To be clear, I love this paper, I love the friends I have made and I cherish all the time spent together, but this past year on Pipe Dream has quite honestly made me extremely bitter and jaded toward this campus.

My junior year as design manager on Pipe Dream was probably the most difficult hurdle I had faced in my academic career, but I ended the year proud of myself and my design staff for successfully bringing back print and all the cool graphics we created. This year as managing editor, however, has been incredibly emotionally draining between covering contentious campus events, receiving threats and hateful messages in my inbox and witnessing vitriolic back and forths in our comments every time I refresh Instagram. This year has made me sick of journalism and sick of people.

I hope that in the months after graduation, I will ease up once I am able to go on social media and check my email without expecting a new hateful message telling me that I am an awful writer or how they feel bad for my family that has to welcome me back home. But it has been difficult to pretend that these constant messages don’t slowly eat at you.

This next part will sound cheesy, but my biggest saving grace through all this has been my art.

While juggling my time at Pipe Dream with my academics, I was finally able to accept in these past couple years that I want to pursue art for the rest of my life and that it is OK to want that. I enrolled at Binghamton University after deciding not to attend the various art schools I had applied to in high school, fearing that I would never find a job. To everyone’s surprise, I decided to study chemistry and leave art behind to improve my chances of getting a job after college.

I didn’t last long as a chem major and bounced around between art history, graphic design, a graphic design BFA, and math, and ultimately, after a rough fall semester junior year, finally choosing just the graphic design BA. I finished most of my credits for the graphic design major by the end of my fall semester that year and decided to explore some other intro and intermediate level art classes for fun. I learned from those classes that if I could go back to freshman year, I would have chosen to be a BFA student, no hesitation.

What I had missed in a lot of my design classes was the physicality of making art. The calm while focusing on a project for hours on end followed by the satisfaction of holding a piece you have labored over in your hands is the most rewarding feeling I have experienced to date. That feeling has assured me that this is my passion and has kept me pushing me forward in my classes despite the intensity of this campus’ news cycle.

This last semester at BU, I am taking a mixed media course, and it has opened my eyes to what I am most passionate about. At the encouragement and support of my professor, I have been able to experiment with printing on textiles, hand stitching, attaching clay to fabric and beading, and although it has taken me months of work, constantly fussing over the tiniest details, I have loved every moment of it.

The professors in our art and design department are the most encouraging people I have ever met — if you have a vision, they will do whatever it takes to help you execute it. Being surrounded by so many driven people, both professors and students, from different artistic disciplines has motivated me to push myself that much harder to create work I am proud of. I am grateful to be leaving Binghamton so happy with what I have learned and inspired to create more and greater works post-grad.

As for my work at Pipe Dream, I am certainly proud of that as well. I know I was able to achieve some great things for this paper and I will miss the wonderful team that Lia and I have built that is now forever trauma-bonded. But I will never miss being threatened or experiencing the disgusting levels of hate that have been hurled at our staff this year, and I hope there will be a time when the staff on Pipe Dream can enjoy the rewarding moments of journalism without having to face such incredible backlash from their campus community.

Now onto the hardest part, my thank you’s and goodbyes.

I first need to thank Harry and Hamza for all the work they did last year that put us in the position to explore so many new opportunities for Pipe Dream, and, of course, for trusting me to restart print. I’ve missed having you guys in the office but have sincerely appreciated all the help you have extended to us during this crazy year.

To Lia and Brandon, you guys so got this. I can’t think of any two more qualified people to lead a paper after all you have handled this year. Thank you for being the best sasha-ing team I could have asked for, and I can’t wait to see where you take Pipe Dream.

To all my friends on Pipe Dream, from both this year and last year, thank you for being there for me through all the ups and downs. I’m going to miss spending time with you all in and out of the office, and am going to cherish all the memories we have made together.

To the greatest professor ever and queen of tough love, Davis, I am going to miss spending my Tuesdays and Thursdays with you in the printmaking room. You have helped me grow so much as an artist and I can’t thank you enough for all you have taught me. I promise I’ll stay in touch!

To my good pal, Mark, thank you for putting up with all my late nights working on posts and for always pausing our movie when I need to answer a call from Lia. You’ve truly made my last year and a half at Binghamton, and I hope you know how grateful I am for you.

Finally, I have to shout out the Binghamton Association of Mixed Students, the best org ever, and all my near and dear “college friends” for being the best community and support system throughout these four years.

Bella Daidone is a senior majoring in graphic design and is Pipe Dream’s Managing Editor. She was Design Manager from 2022-23.

Views expressed in the opinions pages represent the opinions of the columnists. The only piece that represents the views of the Pipe Dream Editorial Board is the Staff Editorial.