To the incoming freshmen class and those arriving on campus for the first time — welcome!

You’ve likely heard enough encouragement from university officials, SOAR leaders and excited friends and family members to get out and explore campus, so I’ll offer you some different advice instead.

While being on and growing comfortable with campus is great, your years at the University of Wisconsin likely won’t be defined here. The Terrace is beautiful and you may very well find your best friends right on your dormitory floor — but I’d encourage not to get too comfortable with life as you know it on campus.

After all, we get to call all of Madison home — not just the university. From intensely private and quiet nature scenes to busy and crowded urban environments, this city combines paradoxes beautifully, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t attempt to fully explore it.

I was offered this advice myself when I first arrived here, and I’ve always been glad that I followed it. After all, my best memories have been made outside the confines of campus and the reach of the university.

At the core of these memories is The Badger Herald — a bold, evolving and entirely independent experiment in student media. The key word there is independent, meaning that while we are student-run and our content is student-oriented, The Badger Herald does not operate under the guise of the university.

For an organization entrusted with telling the stories and amplifying the voices of UW students, independence from the university is crucial. That’s why we have our own office, pay our own way and develop our own content — because the stories we tell and the students we serve are just too important for us to be beholden to the institutional power we are tasked with holding to account.

So for aspiring journalists, writers, graphic designers, videographers, photographers — for those who have a talent to share and are looking to make an impact: The Badger Herald’s doors are always open. And while you’re out exploring this place beyond the confines of campus, I hope you’ll stop by our offices.

For me and for almost 50 years of BH alumni before me, we’ve never regretted it.

If you’d like to get involved with us this semester, whether it’s as a reporter, photographer, videographer, designer, coder or copy editor, stop by our get involved meetings in the fall or feel free to email me at [email protected]