Last week I wrote a poem called “Meditations & Jubilee” as part of my senior poetry sequence, an exploration of my own psychology and dreams. The poem ends with the following line: “Through meditation form your own concept of jubilee. Consider it a blessing that he’s all you have when everyone leaves.
I rarely talk about my creative work, but I wouldn’t quote my poetry if it had nothing to do with my latest column. That’s right, you read that right: this is the last chapter of “The Eck’s Factor”. Before I continue, I’m going to let my biggest critics have their moment so they can rejoice.
My poem embodies my account with a part of me that my column has guided over the past two years. And now that it’s over, I can’t help but contemplate its impact and how I can move on to new pastures with all that I’ve learned and taught myself.
My involvement with the Daily Trojan goes back to a period in my studies shortly after I visited a guidance counselor and a new senior counselor every week. Council Dornsife, my heart goes out to you for tolerating my weekly identity crises.
I was a neuroscience student, completely immersed in pre-med classes and constantly surrounded by aspiring healthcare providers. I had a love-hate relationship with science, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was terribly unhappy the first two years of my undergraduate studies.
When I joined the Daily Trojan, however, I thought maybe I could find a creative outlet beyond my science classes. Little did I know that writing opinion editorials would rekindle my love for writing and lead to adding a creative writing major and becoming an opinion writer at the Daily Trojan.
I started my column in the spring of 2019, naive in the face of the coming storm. I was infatuated with giving my “hot shots” on the hot button, sociopolitical issues – typical of me Aries – without having to focus solely on topics relevant to USC. I went from writing editorials about the University’s STI testing policies to pretty much anything I wanted to. I wrote about Penn Badgley in “You” and our societal glamorization of sociopathy. I’ve written about dating apps, Chick-fil-A, climate alarmism, and psychedelics.
One of my favorite pieces to date is “Hypercompetitive Pre-Health Culture Not Conducive to Promoting Compassionate Physicians”, an account of my experiences as a pre-med student in a culture that prioritizes grades over human decency. . This article is still my guiding pedagogy, as I apply for medical school this upcoming cycle.
Then the pandemic hit and we were sent home for what we thought was a week, which turned into a year and a half. Black Lives Matter has become increasingly prominent after the murder of George Floyd by former white police officer Derek Chauvin.
I suddenly found myself isolated and at the forefront of controversy with justified and unjustified opinions to my left and my right. But I also had a huge privilege. I had a roof over my head; I was in good physical health and had a bi-weekly slot in a newspaper that circulated to over 50,000 readers. I realized that I was no longer just here to share my takes on the latest feud on Twitter.
I had a voice and a platform that I could use to spread my point of view without fueling racist narratives. But as a white man, how much would this perspective contribute to an anti-racism movement without also getting rid of performativism or a white savior complex? I had to deal with this problem by learning how to best communicate an opinion that would be both accessible and admissible.
Across 32 editions, “The Eck’s Factor” has provided me with an outlet to foster discourse within a community close to my heart. It was no longer just a catharsis but a form of engagement. I simply cannot speak of the tens of thousands of words I have poured into these articles without acknowledging the things I have discovered about the people around me.
I first thought I could use the outlet to share my opinion and possibly change a few minds along the way. Along the journey, however, I realized that my audience wouldn’t be so malleable. Sure, it was always a huge compliment every time someone randomly approached me and said they liked my article, but that wasn’t always the case. Journalism has unexpectedly cultivated my conflict resolution skills.
the Daily Trojan was the catalyst for my university experience. It was consistent with the relationships I lost and the relationships I formed. It reflected the development of my communication skills that I could use to create accessible content. It helped me find a political mindset where I felt informed enough to engage in conversations with others, but also aware enough of my own knowledge gaps that required more learning, more research, more of discovery.
At its conclusion, I feel satisfied with what I have accomplished. “The Eck’s Factor” ends at a time when my passions are turning to new things. I am no longer the second lost student with an opinion or two, but a future alumnus with a road ahead of me. Freelance writing will always be a possibility for me, but until then I will continue to seek a jubilee elsewhere.
Matthew Eck is a senior writer on burning social issues. His column “The Eck’s Factor” aired every other Wednesday. He is also Director of Wellness and Community Outreach at Daily Trojan.