For those of you who tune in for my weekly addresses to the UT community, this column is certainly a deviation from the norm. This week, we're going to get a little bit personal. After a recent bout of introspection, I have come to the conclusion that my last semester of editorials will be most effective if I lend them some context. To that end, I need you to understand how I view criticism.

Of the countless imperfections that no doubt exist in my personality, criticism is perhaps the most unflattering. Whether a product of nature or nurture, I have never been afraid to state exactly what I think about anything and everything around me. In some contexts, it's unhealthy. I make it a point to fiercely fight these tendencies. My internal critiques about people, institutions and the less than efficient floor plan of the UC, are often just unnecessary. I have found that when you have no power to improve the object of your criticism, such negative thoughts are simply a waste of precious time.

The irony of this critical tendency is that I direct it toward the people and things I care most about. It doesn't stem from any kind of ill will, but rather a passionate desire to render some kind of service to the individuals and institutions I value the most. I want to see them maximize their potential. Vocalizing my criticism is not the easiest way to win friends. If anything, it can be quite a dampener on my relationships. Understanding this, I now very often choose to simply keep my mouth shut when there is nothing to be gained from my commentary. In some instances, though, I encounter people or causes worth martyring popularity for. I don't dispense critical remarks lightly. Instead, I opt to knowingly sacrifice the esteem I desire from people I admire to give them my true opinion about their choices. I know my ideas and solutions are not the magic bullet for everyone's problems, but I share my thoughts in the hope that what I say might make their life easier or better at some point in the future.

I think this would be an excellent point to emerge from the sordid depths of my personal life and return to how this applies to my editorial coverage. The Daily Beacon has been and is committed to the transparent evaluation of the ideas and actions of administrators, faculty and elected student representatives at UT. That being the case, constructive criticism is an absolute imperative.

I believe that Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and his administration can agree with this idea. The chancellor has made many constructive (pardon the pun) changes to this university already during his short tenure. A campus makeover, a new branding campaign and a quest to better our national ranking are all part of his vision. Whatever you may think about his plans, I do believe his actions are taken with the best interest of UT students at heart.

Improving the UT experience for future students is something I believe we can all rally around. So, this semester, some of my editorials may get very real, very fast. There are a great deal of changes that need to be made to UT's daily operation to improve the lives of students, and I'm making it my business to dredge them up. UT's administration, SGA, teaching faculty, and yes, even the student newspaper, could all find ways to serve students better. Let's talk about them.

Email me your concerns, and I'll throw them together with mine. Maybe we can dial down the screw a few notches before I graduate.

— Blair Kuykendall is a senior in economics and College Scholars. She can be reached at bkuykend@utk.edu.

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