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By Logan Blakeslee

I feel a slight sting with every keystroke as I write my final piece for the Binghamton Review, the greatest student publication in the Southern Tier—nay, the world. Part of my struggle in putting my thoughts on the page is that I can scarcely believe that my time at Binghamton University is almost over. Like every other graduating senior, I will be receiving my horrifically overpriced diploma and then I will be condemned to search the wastelands for this mysterious thing called a “job” so that I can make “money.” 

My final article will be without a main subject. Instead, it will be more of a stream of consciousness as I close one epic chapter of my life and jump headfirst into another. The college experience has left me feeling a bit shell-shocked and woefully unprepared for adult life. Some of the skills I picked up along the way will definitely be helpful, and my newfound appreciation for public libraries has dampened my rabid libertarianism slightly. I would say the same about public transportation if the campus shuttles ever arrived on time. 

To be quite honest, I can’t remember much of how I encountered Binghamton Review when I first became a student here. Through amnesic fog and haze, I do recall sitting somewhere in the Marketplace and having a good chuckle for a minute or two after grabbing an issue in 2019. The Review was the paper that said whatever the other papers were too scared to say, and that meant a lot to me as a lonesome conservative student. Even though it would be a very, very long time before I submitted anything myself, the Review gave me something to look forward to each month besides grade updates and club meetings.  

In joining College Republicans, I met an assortment of incredible people who also happened to be staffers in the Review: Bryn Lauer, Spencer Haynes, Kevin Vorrath, Tommy Gagliano, Patrick McAuliffe—these people earned my respect as some of the best contributors to this publication and I miss them greatly. Their wit and kind souls were beacons in a sea of monotony. Truly, one of the hardest parts of graduating college is saying goodbye to old friends, but passing the torch along to the next batch of rebels and geniuses is the ultimate privilege for me. With luck, perhaps I can read the Review again once it hits its hundredth anniversary in 2087. 

Aside from friendships, college is probably the last place I will ever be where I get free trips to glamorous political conferences in big cities. That is one perk that will be missed,   alongside reduced movie and bus fares in Broome County. I will miss the feeling of deep philosophical conversations being interrupted by memes and jests and talk of anime. I will miss the convenience of having everything important to me within walking distance, whether it be classes or the admissions office or whatever else. 

I won’t miss much else. Binghamton University is a decent school for academics, but some of its drawbacks would have convinced me to stay at SUNY Broome, had I known about them. For instance, I would have graduated one semester early had the Political Science Department not denied me a seminar class over the summer (after promising me that there’d be one)—a delay which caused me to become a double major as I was forced to stay during the Fall 2023 semester anyway. I figured that I might as well take some extra classes and get a second degree while I had the time, but I am resentful about the extra cost it placed on me. 

Additionally, any delay in graduating is ultimately a delay in finding a career. As I approach the age of 24, I am less certain about my career path than when I was a freshman. Previously my intention was to go to law school, but burying myself in deeper debt seems like an awful idea to me now, even if law is my dream job. I am highly qualified to work in politics but I am extremely disenchanted with the field as a whole. Some of the worst people I’ve met are well-paid politicians and their ambitious underlings. Working with them sounds terrible. 

Speaking of working with politicians I personally detest, it is a huge relief to me that my service in the Binghamton Student Association is coming to a close. Student Congress is the worst hotbed of liberal infighting and nepotism anywhere outside of Albany. Clashing megalomaniacs rarely make good policy, and the recent decision to endorse the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” movement against Israel will go down as one of the S.A.’s worst decisions. I can only take solace in my vote against such madness. By contrast, I take immense pride in passing the Chicago Statement at Binghamton University to strengthen free speech protections. It was a rare conservative victory in student government. 

For fear of sounding like a jaded old man, I did discover a passion for teaching thanks to my work as a substitute teacher off campus. Today’s youth might be obnoxious, but making school a more fun place to learn really made me think about my own time as a kid and how miserable I was back then. I don’t mean that in a pessimistic way; it brings me real joy to see young folks enjoying school and forming bonds with each other. I’m glad to see kids learn in a more supportive environment than what I had as a child. I’ve since realized that world peace probably resembles a children’s playground. Kids on a playground will make their own rules, yet somehow, for the most part, everything remains peaceful and happy. I wish the adult world could be like that.

On the subject of teaching, I have to give an earnest shoutout to the professors at SUNY Binghamton who stood out for being top-tier instructors. Harald Zils in the German Studies Department was my favorite in this category. I never had a boring class with him, and his uniquely German sense of humor quickly grew on me. Elizabeth Casteen introduced me to the wonders of medieval European history and I am forever grateful for that; that stuff is fascinating. Meanwhile, Mikhail Filippov showed me the finer nuances of the Cold War. This allows me to forgive him for being a ruthless Russian grader (he is actually very kind). Likewise, I appreciate Kristina Buhrman for educating me on the utter black comedy that is medieval Japan.  

Last but not least, Professor Jonathan Krasno forced me to take statistical research more seriously in political science. He and I disagreed on plenty of issues, but I respect him and his efforts to curtail gerrymandering in Broome County. He is a great mind and a great teacher, and the same is true for all of the other professors I just mentioned. The importance of having an engaging instructor at a university cannot be overstated. Sometimes passing or failing simply depends on how well a professor can capture your attention, which is a lesson that I have taken to heart in my own teaching endeavors.

I guess the gist of this article is that life is unpredictable. I’ve grown to love things that I used to hate, and hate things I used to love. I don’t view it as a sign of maturity, but rather directing my energy towards circles where I can make a positive difference. The average progressive protester in modern America will never have the same impact on a person’s life as a teacher or charity worker. Perhaps that might be the key to success for my fellow conservatives: injecting ourselves into our communities to do good things that don’t necessarily involve politics. Naturally, I still recommend being politically engaged and aware, but too much of it can twist the human spirit in disturbing ways, like Fafnir transforming into a greedy dragon. 

So, what are my hopes for the future? I predict that the 2024 presidential election will occupy a hefty percentage of my time. In spite of everything I just said, getting involved in a campaign, large or small, is a worthy step in advancing one’s career. My hope is that Republicans make gains so that Project 2025 can be implemented nationwide, which would allow me to serve in the Executive branch as a true civil servant. I take inspiration from my granduncle, James Finley, who nobly served President George W. Bush during his second term. 

If that falls through, I still have my eyes set on the State Department due to my interest in foreign policy and diplomacy. Peace Corps is another avenue to get experience in this field, and although one of my applications was rejected, I am sure to send many more. After all, defeat is only momentary. As an additional backup plan, I am crafting my application to the U.S. Naval Academy to further my education and hopefully practice military law. Beyond that, the future is a complete mystery to me. 

As I run out of things to put down on the page, I am obligated to express my gratitude and affection for the friends I made who are still students at the time of writing. Arthur O’Sullivan, there’s no one else I’d trust to be prefect of House Hufflepuff. You are one of my closest friends on campus. Shayne O’Loughlin, my good anarchist chap, I hope you are condemned to 1,000 years of service to the Cato Institute. Joe Trombetta, Sean Harrigan, and Will Anderson, I would gladly retake Jerusalem alongside you all. Joe Kornblum, your tenacity and strength of character set the example that the rest of us should follow. There are so many other names that I could cite and thank, but sadly the word limit is fast approaching. 

Binghamton University, my parting will be a bittersweet experience. Mostly bitter. There is so much more that I want to say, advice to give, wisdom to share, but I think that I will have to bid adieu on this lingering, unfinished note. I have accomplished a great deal and yet I will always feel like I could have done more. I merely hope that adult life will give me the chance to achieve my real aspirations and dreams. God bless.    

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