Editor-in-Chief Heather Perry sent out an email notifying her staff of an emergency meeting at 5:42 p.m. Feb. 28 — everyone was required to attend. Given the paper’s recent mishap, every member of the editorial board was eager to learn what had we done. Who had we bothered? Did we misreport something? What line did we cross?
We didn’t cross a line. There was no one to blame and, most importantly, no one could take this story back.
We had lost one of our own. Overnight, we were one staff member short.
The experience was harrowing. Suddenly, all of our petty notions of what fleeting, juvenile conflicts we could have caused seemed so hopelessly insignificant.
Christopher Grouse’s death caused many of us to reflect on how important it is to value people.
Although he volunteered his time to work on our website and rarely crossed paths with most of the staff, all of us remember how friendly and intelligent he was, and above all, his great sense of humor. For those of us who did not get a chance to know him better, it is our loss. It’s hard to believe we’ll never see his contented smile during staff meetings again.
This past week, the mood in the newsroom has not been the same. Gone was the usual friendly banter and joke-cracking, replaced by a subdued silence punctuated only by the occasional solemn comment. Production night Feb. 29 was particularly difficult, and so we chose to print only 12 pages instead of our regular 16 to put less stress on the editors.
The grief affected us all in different ways. For some, going back on to campus after hearing the news was the most difficult. It was difficult to see students laughing, shouting and going about their lives after ours had been so drastically changed. For others, hearing indirectly from his family how much the Mast meant to Chris hit the hardest. Above all, the overall silence in the office was overwhelming.
Christopher is best remembered here at the Mast for his first column of a budding new series called “Tech Talk.” He had expressed interest in trying out “the whole writing thing” and soon after produced a great, unique article on the three “must-have devices” of 2012. On Feb. 27, he was in the Mast office reviewing his next column on a topic he was passionate about: Macs versus PCs.
That was the last time his jokes rang throughout our office.
We remember sharing in his joy at publishing his first column, each of us remembering our own pride at our first articles. His article was praised for the voice and personality he conveyed, and we as a staff regret we never got the chance to tell him how much we liked it.
Although it has been tough to process, we as a staff are slowly getting back on our feet. We remember Christopher for his life, not his death.
A celebration of Christopher’s life will be held Monday March 12 at 10:30am in Lagerquist Hall during chapel.