Snow was falling for the third time in my life, and I felt a growing sense of dread considering the walk I’d have to make from my dorm in Mathey to the basement in Bloomberg. This was the weekend, and I had woken up too late to get breakfast. Swapping bagel and cream cheese for broom and dustpan, I made my way to the deep clean I had organized for 11 am that Saturday morning.

Behind forgotten coats and misplaced boxes was a drawer dressed with a post-it note; on the note was marked in Sharpie “‘82-’85.” Plucking a few issues withered yellow with time, I carefully skimmed through the remnants from decades past. Flipping past names unknown to me, I stopped at a byline with the name Sharon Brady – artifact of now Nass alum Sharon Lowe, the publication’s first female publisher since its founding in 1979.

The week prior, Sharon Lowe and I had been in contact so I could learn of her experience when the Nassau Weekly was in its early days. In an endeavor to preserve her Nass memory, her responses have been documented below.

Lowe started our conversation with a clarification: “My tenure was 1982-85. I was publisher from January 1984 to January 1985.” In this pre-computer era, the Nass “rented a typesetting machine we used to produce the paper; an expensive behemoth that just spit out type columns used to manually lay out the paper. Every typo had to be reprinted, cut, and glued down…which is why we pulled an all nighter every Wednesday to put the paper to bed.” A far cry from the streamlined practices we do today.

Despite this gaudy apparatus, the young Nassau Weekly was paying from a fund that was entirely empty. The cost of printing, among other expenses, meant “we were massively in debt – the equivalent of nearly $100,000 in today’s dollars” which, “was about $35,000 then.”

Facing financial crisis, Lowe shared “The fellow who was publisher before me was Jeremy Ben Ami and he sat the staff down and explained that if we didn’t do something we were going out of business.” Only a few years in the making, Lowe and the rest of the Nass were not willing to give up just yet. They responded by “[figuring] out how to do fundraising, cut costs, sell more advertising.” However, despite these efforts, “the University handed us a phone bill, which we had never seen and included charges going back years.” The debt felt inescapable.

In early 1985, with the debt still unpaid, Lowe was requested to meet “at Nassau Hall, during which [she] somehow convinced the Dean of Students to not only forgive a major portion of our debt, but also give us a bunch of the just released Apple Macintosh computers, allowing us to eliminate our second biggest expense.” Lowe emphasized just how revolutionary Macintosh computers were in publication: “The first one was introduced in 1984. We all wrote our theses on terminals attached to the mainframe. I knew very, very few people with PCs at that time.” Though a major feat in the Nass’ debt relief, Lowe admitted “it by no means guaranteed the long term viability of the Nass, but at least [she] knew [she] was leaving the paper in a much better place.”

Lowe pioneered the early efforts of the Nassau Weekly’s preservation, embodying a rare ambition to take action when success strains itself–an ambition that was critical to the survival of the Nass. Commenting on the relentless nature of the Nass, Lowe responded to me with a quick and pointed affirmation that “relentless is correct.”

After Lowe shared her memories, I was left wondering where this unrelenting motivation came from. Despite the massive financial crisis the Nass was in, Lowe and other members refused to witness the paper collapse. For Lowe, her ambition to keep the Nass moving forward stems from “the energy, the creativity, and commitment to producing a high quality product not because it is going to advance careers, or improve GPAs, but because stories need telling.”

Decades later, Sharon Lowe now serves as a trustee of the Nassau Weekly, still embodying the enduring spirit that kept the Nass alive. Through economic turmoil and technological shifts, her relentless drive to protect stories remains unchanged: an ambition I now think I am starting to understand after listening to her story. Between sex issues and (something), Nass members encapsulate the same spirit with what has kept Lowe telling stories to this day and, what has inspired me to retell hers here.

Do you enjoy reading the Nass?

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