Tripod Editorial: A Farewell from Brendan Clark Tripod Editor-in-Chief, ’20-’21

This is the last time I shall write to the Tripod as an undergraduate, and it would be a lie to suggest that there is not a tinge of sadness, indeed, as I muse on the value and fundamental necessity of a collegiate daily to the life of a campus.

It has been a singular honor to lead this paper for the past three semesters. Although the nights have been long and there have been many moments of exasperation and frustration, in the end, the chance to record and report on the affairs of this small liberal arts College has been worth it. So often, when we reminisce on the passage of time, we observe its swiftness with a measure of regret. The same is undoubtedly true here: my Mondays will be significantly less exciting and the thrill one finds in following a good lead will be but a memory of the past.

But I would be remiss if I did not also look to not just what the Tripod has meant to my own undergraduate formation, but the greater purpose that the Tripod constitutes. The College newspaper is the singular forum and record of student expression on-campus and, when one wishes to understand the thoughts of students in space and time, they will—as we do today for so many aspects of our College’s history—turn to the Tripod. It is a newspaper of record for Trinity College and a compendium of the thoughts of the undergraduate body.

During my tenure, I have endeavored to preserve that spirit of free discourse and liberal argument that is essential to the preservation of democracy. This principle is not without challenge: many seek to silence opinion, to sequester and stifle free thought, and to prevent the expression and free exchange of ideals. We struggle, as a people today, to confront and accept thoughts we disagree with. While vigorous and spirited disagreement is welcome, censorship and the restriction of thought are the primary enemies, antithetical to all that a democracy stands for.

It is my hope and belief that the supposition that uncomfortable ideas have no place in discourse will fail and that the Tripod will continue as it has to ensure that views and perspectives are adequately represented. We are nothing if not a repository of thought and, as Justice Brandeis has observed in perhaps among the greatest judicial dicta in the history of free speech jurisprudence, “If there be time to expose through discussion, the falsehoods and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

If there is anything that the Tripod should be remembered for in the past four years, it is a restatement of this eternal precept: that “more speech” is always the best means to encourage those democratic values that we come to learn, cherish, and pledge to preserve as we mature into responsible citizens of this great nation.

To those who criticize the Tripod as deferential to a political persuasion or antagonistic toward particular camps, nothing could be further from the truth. The Tripod does not reject opinions but, instead, welcomes them. We welcome—would welcome—and continue to welcome all of those opinions, even those with which we might individually disagree.

Our news reporting seeks to convey the truth. At times, that truth may be difficult to contend with, and it may disagree with the official narrative. But, in all the annals of history, the press has always served as that check upon the power of the administration, be it presidential or collegiate, and it must continue on that mission even when it is found unpopular. But, so, too will you find in the pages of the past several years coverage of the exemplary work that our students, faculty, staff, and administration dedicate themselves to. We report the good and the bad, because that is what the undergraduate experience and, to a larger extent, the ebb and flow of the history of a college is.

This commitment, however, is borne not by one individual alone. With gratitude, I had the good fortune of being mentored and educated by Gillian Reinhard ’20, who brought the Tripod back from the brink of death that has befallen so many other campus and local newspapers. In the past several years, with the assistance and leadership of Gillian, the Tripod has focused on serious reporting of news and turned to bring Trinity reporting that addresses the great trials and tribulations that we face. I was honored to be in charge of that reporting on the news desk, and I am pleased to see that tradition carried on among the present news editors. My staff, too, these past three semesters has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to the reporting we week to develop, and a commitment to those ideals which make a newspaper long endure.

I also look now to the future, with optimism and confidence in the steady hand that the incoming Editors-in-Chief—Daniel Nesbitt ’22 and Katharine Namon ’22—will bring as leadership. I have no doubt that they will carry on the tradition of old-fashioned liberalism toward issues of the press that I have endeavored to foster here, and I know that they care deeply for those same principles. They will see that the Tripod remains a central forum of student expression and debate. They, as I have, and as Gillian did, will work hard to ensure that a tradition of student journalism that has lasted more than a century on this campus shall not perish.

Though my imprimatur may not appear on the masthead next fall, it is my hope that the writings that have been memorialized here leave some record of the Trinity community during these past four years. It is my hope that the stories told herein and the issues we have covered remind us of the vast disparity of thought and the wonder of all that a newspaper can convey.

And so, as my time ‘neath the elms concludes, my final hope is that the Tripod continues in its noble mission, always conscious of that duty it carries to the ideals of democracy and the spirit of free discourse it is entrusted with fostering and preserving for all.



Brendan W. Clark '21 is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Tripod, Trinity College's student newspaper.

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