Jesse Zanger '92

Do you believe that The Spectator provided you with a community that propelled you to academic/professional success? 

The Spectator community was a good preview of what people were like in journalism at that time — driven, hardworking, very serious. It was an extracurricular, so to participate, it required you to take time out of everything else you had going on at Hamilton. You are all familiar with the academic rigor required, and in 1992, it is safe to say the student body was every bit as adroit at socializing as they were at academics, so taking on any extra burden cut into both those opportunities. The Spectator drew people willing to make those sacrifices, as other extracurricular activities did.  

Beyond the academic/social point, it definitely achieved the professional goal it was designed for. In addition to teaching basic journalism nomenclature and practices, when getting started in the news business at that time — pre-social media, pre-blog — it was helpful to have at least worked at the school paper, as it showed a potential employer you were serious about this work before it was a potentially paying gig. 

How do you think the culture and people within The Spectator affected you at Hamilton within your education?

Well, The Spectator was filled with very serious and driven people, and at the time, I’m afraid I wasn’t all that serious. I took myself terribly seriously, as I think we all did more or less, but I was not serious when it came to the discipline required. That was not true of the other folks at The Spectator. I suspect it made me a poor fit at the time. I eventually transitioned away from the journalism side of the shop to having an opinion column — after all, who wouldn’t benefit from hearing my opinion, right?

That opinion column made me pretty instantly polarizing and also laid bare my inanity — and occasional reason — for anyone who read it to see. That had strong social implications, all part of my education at Hamilton. 

Do you believe The Spectator is a place where you can find leisure and drive to carry into other facets of your life?

Well I must have. I wrote that opinion column for a while. It was gratifying to have been asked to do so, however impertinent and perhaps cringe-worthy the result. As far as drive, certainly. Once involved in one extracurricular, it is in an odd way, easier to get involved in another. I joined WHCL to read the news and also DJ a house/techno/industrial show — if memory serves — entitled “Head Like A Hole” — that at the time, I jokingly billed as “Clinton’s Only Nightclub.”

What are your sentiments to the overall affinities/club scene at Hamilton?

It is an enormously positive thing. Within what was at the time, an incredibly homogenous community, it was possible to pursue individual interests, and by so doing encounter other people who shared those interests. Meeting people with shared interests is one of the great joys of life. It can lead to long-lasting, meaningful friendships, professional success, marriage, and so on. For a community like that to exist in a place as wonderful as Clinton, N.Y., on a Hill as special as ours, well, what’s not to love?

The $400 million campaign to provide students with a life-altering education.

Learn More About the Campaign

Site Search