When I applied for Humor Co-Editor last spring, I was mainly excited about the flashy title, but I had an ulterior motive. I’ve always seen myself as a public servant, and I decided it was my mission to deliver the truth regarding Vassar’s most enigmatic organization: The Miscellany News. Now that I’ve been on the Editorial Board for nearly two semesters, it’s time to reveal the knowledge I’ve acquired about the inner workings of the Misc.
Every Sunday at 9 p.m., the Rose Parlor hosts a ritual known as “Paper Critique.” In this elaborate ceremony, Ed Board and anyone else brave enough gather ominously in a ring. With a copy of the previous week’s Misc in hand, we begin scrutinizing. Page by page, we inspect the paper and offer insightful criticism like “the color of this picture is off” or “the numbers on the crossword are a bit blurry this week.” We all mutter in agreement and then proceed to the next section, searching for the slightest discrepancy. The purpose of this activity is to target our weaknesses so that The Miscellany News becomes the strongest, most powerful small liberal arts collegiate newspaper in the Northeast.
On the third floor of the College Center, tucked away out of sight, is the Miscellany News office. This is where the magic happens. Few outsiders have survived the trek up the flights of stairs, and even fewer have returned to tell the tale. In this office, editors and assistants alike hunker down every Tuesday night for “production night.” During production nights, we are at the mercy of the mighty god known as “InCopy,” our ever-failing software. I’ve frequently observed editors offer sacrifices to this beast to keep it satisfied. As a mere humor editor, my duties rarely require that I stay later than midnight, but I’ve heard countless tales from my comrades of many a sleepless night after experiencing the wrath of InCopy. I salute my colleagues for their tireless dedication; these heroes are braver than the U.S. Marines.
It is difficult to go through a production night without referencing the Style Guide. Few documents sexier than the Style Guide exist. The Style Guide is a laminated guardian angel that helps editors make the right decisions in times of grammatical strife. One of the more controversial tenets of the style guide is the omission of the Oxford comma. We are not sure what would happen if you did use an Oxford comma, but spontaneous combustion is not out of the question. Adhering to this tenet fundamentally changes a person—once you give up the Oxford comma, there is no going back!
After production night, you’d think the work was over. Wrong! Wednesday means Ed Board meeting, where we check in with each other, discuss article assignments and begin Staff Ed. Since many Misc readers only look at the Humor Section and the crossword, you may be unfamiliar with Staff Ed—it’s an opinions article approved by at least two-thirds of Ed Board. During meetings, we wait for two tributes to volunteer to write. To date, no one has ever died while writing Staff Ed, but aversion to this task remains ever-present.
The interviews conducted at these meetings are the most significant ritual because they symbolize the rebirth, renewal and growth of the Misc. The interviewees are usually wide-eyed first-years who are ready to step up to the challenge of being a part of the most prestigious org on campus. After each interview, there is an awkward pause as we collectively decide whether or not we should clap—we usually don’t. This rigorous interview process helps our ranks grow stronger, ensuring that the Misc remains powerful for generations to come.
Hopefully I’ve shed some light on the mysterious institution known as the Misc. After conducting this research, I hypothesize that the goal of the Misc is complete world domination and, unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to stop it. :)