During the week, hundreds of students walk by the STAR writing lab, located on the first floor of Salazar, and pay no attention.
Filled with computers, a few couches and past editions of the STAR covering the walls, the lab sits seamlessly in between Technology High School and the Tutoring Center not showing its significance at first glance.
However it’s in that space, former Editor-in-Chief Brandon Stachnik has edited countless articles, formated numerous STAR editions and led the editorial board of the university’s student-run newspaper for the past year. It’s now come time for the STAR to say goodbye to Stachnik as he moves on to the real world.
Stachnik’s position on the STAR sees the bulk of his work starting on Sundays which involves editing drafts of articles and reaching out to sources that could not be contacted during the week. But even with all the preparation made on Sundays, Mondays are the most hectic day for the editor-in-chief.
“I’d barely see him on Mondays, since he’d be working all day on the STAR,” said Stachnik’s roommate and friend of four years Michael Morelli. “ He’d come back to our place around midnight every Monday and he’d be tired, but always proud of himself, his co-workers and the product they’d created.”
With a collective effort between all the editors, stories are revised, pages are formatted and stories are revised again. Looking back at the past year, Stachnik recalls his growth as head editor for the paper.
“My first issue I was stressing like crazy and I tried to find every little error,” said Stachnik, a communications and media studies major who is graduating at the end of the semester. “As you go on, you begin to understand there is never going to be a perfect paper and whatever mistake was in the paper this week won’t be there next week.”
Stachnik began as a copy editor and served as Arts and Entertainment editor from 2014-2015 and ultimately was promoted to editor-in-chief last year.
Paul Gullixson, faculty advisor for the STAR and the Editorial Editor for the Press Democrat, has witnessed Brandon transition between positions and take on more duties.
“Brandon has done an outstanding job as editor this past year,” said Gullixson. “He has helped take the STAR to a new level, overseeing some quality journalistic endeavors including coverage of the asbsestos lawsuit and the looming CSU faculty strike, which, thankfully, was averted.”
Becoming editor-in-chief of the STAR was not something Stachnik always wanted to do and at first, he didn’t even know if Sonoma State University was where he wanted to attend college.
Ultimately Stachnik saw Sonoma State as a way to be close to San Francisco, where he could checkout spots to skateboard every weekend and major in communications and media studies, a non-impacted major at the time.
Starting his time on the STAR as a staff writer his sophomore year, he considers his decision to move up the ranks into editor-in-chief as a major learning experience.
“As corny as it sounds the STAR is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in college,” said Stachnik. “I have learned how to write more than just essays and where I am now has really grown my leadership skills.”
Joining the STAR would change Stachnik’s life in more ways than simply teaching him how to write in AP style.
Shyanne Lopez was the opinion editor when Stachnik started on the STAR. The two would exchange innocent flirtations and it would result in the two collaborating a lot during class.
“My first impression was that he was intelligent and right away, I knew that I liked him,” said Lopez. “ I especially liked that even when he wasn’t in my section anymore, he would offer to write opinion pieces for me if we were low on them that week, I wonder why?”
Stachnik credits his girlfriend for giving him the desire to pursue any editor position, let alone editor-in-chief. The two have been in a long distance relationship for over a year after Lopez returned to San Diego, where she currently works at a magazine.
“She is basically doing what I want to do,” said Stachnik. “I see how well she is doing it and she is still an inspiration to me.”
Subsequently, the longer Stachnik has been with the STAR, the prouder he is of what his staff and him have accomplished over the past year. There’s been a total rebranding of the paper from what he originally inherited a year ago.
“The addition of full color pages, layout improvements and strength in story variety is impressive, and I truly believe the newspaper only gets better every year,” said former Editor-in-Chief of the STAR Dylan Sirdofsky.
With that in mind, Stachnik understands printed versions of newspapers are going extinct and finding balance of keeping the younger generation interested in reading the paper as well as keeping the older generation content with their original news outlet is the real challenge.
“Unfortunately the print product is going to be gone,” said Stachnik. “It sucks because that’s what I like to do, but it’s our duty as young communication students to develop a new model.”
Stachnik sees a possible way to keep student interest by publishing articles quicker than a weekly basis.
With other priorities students have this would be a tough sell, but using the STAR website and social media more effectively would only help this cause.
As his time at Sonoma State comes to end, Stachnik wishes he could have participated in more school-run events as he sees student participation growing campus wide.
“I always thought I was too cool to do campus events,” said Stachnik. “For whatever reason, this year there seems to be more participation in campus events and even if it sounds kind of lame, you should go to more of these events.”
Furthermore, he suggests that communications and media studies majors do more than just participate in required outlets, as it will become less like work and more into a something someone can put their pride into.
After graduation Stachnik will be moving back home to San Diego where he hopes to work in print publication or at least in a media platform.
“[Stachnik] has demonstrated the right balance of creativity, calm and perseverance as editor, all with a dedication to accuracy,” said Gullixson. “We will miss him a great deal.”
Stachnik has devoted a lot of his time at Sonoma State to the STAR and the people that keep it running. He has always shown his passion for writing and editing.
As editor-in-chief he has provided an outlet for editors and writers to come to with any problems or questions without hesitation.
He has left his mark on Sonoma State’s student-run newspaper, that has been in publication since 1979, as many faculty have sent in their appreciation to the effort they have seen put into the STAR over the past year.
As a new editor-in-chief takes the reigns they will only further capitalize on the changes that were made by Stachnik and for that the STAR says thank you.