Op-Ed: Rats in the basement

Rat (verb); slang- to turn informer; squeal

| January 26, 2016

The above definition was held in high regard, begging for space in my head as I waited for my first Niner Times meeting to commence. The concept of the rodent family Muridae, of the genus rattus, was not something that often frequented my mind. I promise I do not spend time aimlessly conjuring up notions of beasts hell-bent on plaguing both my mind and the world with vile undertakings. Still, though, I couldn’t escape thinking about rats as the meeting progressed.

A quick inner-reflection to the elements surrounding the heralded times quickly waned my perplexities. You see, the Niner Times office is headquartered in the lower level of the student union- below the surface. A series of hallways connect the numerous custodial closets and maintenance rooms, too many to count, that hind behind an inconspicuous mechanized identity. Enter the office of the Times, a sanctuary for ideas and academic communication that appears to peacefully coexist amongst the churning of the machine. Imagine a labyrinth of sorts, pitting the complex corridor connectors together in a rather organized, yet anarchic, fashion. Each tunnel, so to speak, can be traced back to the main Niner Times office, which serves as the artery that ceaselessly pumps out life to the rest of the basement. The main nest.

It doesn’t take a zoologist or national geographic enthusiast to understand rats are rather fond of basements. The dark, damp environment seems to be a quaint destination for an animal that revels in filth. Another noteworthy semblance to the rat lies in their affinity for extensive channels and tunnels.  So sitting there, ignoring the one job I had at just listening, I began making out an awfully apparent distinction: we were rats.

What? No way had this intern guy refer to himself, much less his new colleagues, as dirty vermin. While I am not particularly keen on owning the label of rat, I really cannot see away around this matter. Let’s go back to the original sentence, the opening definition of rat. I would say “to turn informer” is sufficient enough a claim to substantiate the work writers do for newspapers. Perhaps little squealing in the literal sense occurs, granted, but I guarantee the figurative approach is well in practice.

At root, anytime the collective minds of the Niner Times places any pieces of work into fruition, they would be subscribing to the action of the informer. Paired with the underground network of our habitat, the office, one can see the comparison in true light. Our job is to seek after information so as to further assimilate it within the student body. The process of ‘ratting out’ justifies this behavior. And it should, because it is not necessarily a bad thing. This title I can deal with.

The similarity really came too when the Editor-in-Chief warned us not to wander about the basements hallways after dark, or when the Union was under lock and key. He explained that the rattling and pitter patter of our footsteps freaks out the janitors, who can only assume our scurrying to be indicative of intruders. I thought this as both comedic and strikingly appropriate. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the sheer horror, absolute fright displayed across these workers faces upon the realization that their feared burglars were, in fact, rats scampering as they please. Or equally as traumatizing, student writers.

Archived editions of the Niner Times displayed on the walls of the basement offices. Photo by Casey Aldridge.

Archived editions of the Niner Times displayed on the walls of the basement offices. Photo by Casey Aldridge.

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Category:Opinion, Student Life

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