Street's former HBIC returns one last time.
Street: What activities are you involved in?
Emily Johns: I am officially the least active or involved Ego of the Week that there has ever been. I was Editor–in–Chief of 34th Street and I was in SDT, and neither of those things apply currently.
Street: What are you most proud of during your time at Street?
EJ: Probably—I’m proud of a lot of things. I think the most, the single thing that we did that I’m the most proud of is the election reflection issue, for a lot of reasons. Obviously it meant a lot to a lot of people, it touched a lot of people...We pulled it completely out of our asses and put it together within six hours. Everyone worked on it together, it was really collaborative, it made everyone really happy. It gave people a purpose in a time where everyone was like, crying at their desks. And then it got such an amazing response from alumni that it just made me feel really good and all the copies are gone. There’s not even one on the wall of the office and I don’t have one for myself because everyone wanted a copy.
Street: Walk me through the decision to make the Election Reflection issue. It was pretty last minute, right?
EJ: The day after the election, I had a midterm at like three that I hadn’t studied for, and I spent the entire day studying for my exam and I was like, "I don’t know what we’re going to do about Street, but I can’t deal with Street until I take this exam." So, I didn’t talk to anyone about it or deal with it, I took the exam, walked out of the exam, called Mikaela (Ed. note: Mikaela is the former Managing Editor of Street) and was like, "What the fuck are we going to do?" because it just didn’t really feel appropriate to run our normal content the day after something that like, for a lot of people on this campus, including me and staff, it felt like it had kind of shaken them up so badly that it didn’t feel right to run the Round Up and to shit on the normal stuff because everything didn’t really feel normal. Basically, we had two options. One was run the normal issue and talk about the election in my letter, and the other was to do something totally different. Because of the ads, you can never just pull everything, and obviously that would have been the ideal thing to just cancel it, but like, not possible. Mikaela and I were just like, "What if we crowdsource a bunch of stories, we can write them." We did not think that we would get—we didn’t even think we’d fill the pages. We were like, "We will be lucky if we get enough to like stretch it to fill the print issue," but I talked to Eric Jacobs (Ed. note: the General Manager of the DP) and he let me do it. Within, like, 30 minutes of putting up that status we got so many responses...then we just published everything we got and flooded the website and it was really cool.
Street: Did you have to deal with any sort of backlash while you were EIC?
EJ: What kind? What category?
Street: Literally anything, were there any lawsuits coming at you? Friends being angry?
EJ: Okay, yes. I had to deal with the most annoying people. Like constantly—the best is the people who used to write—like who had once wrote stuff for us and it’s been five years into their lives after Penn and they just email me being like, "Hey, I just googled myself and I noticed that this article shows up, can you take it down?" No. And they don’t realize that you can’t so that’s just fundamentally annoying. I had a couple crazy parents. In terms of friends being mad at me, the only time was one time a frat that I have friends in, had their pledging in the Round–Up and they were borderline in trouble with nationals so they kind of flipped out at me. With SDT, the President of SDT would always be like, ‘every Thursday morning, I wake up and check the Round Up at eight a.m. because I’m terrified that you’re going to ruin us.’ The best backlash is all the boys at Smokes' that use it to shit on you. Like, they use it to hit on you, but if it doesn’t go their way, then they use it to shit on you. It’s kind of fucking great.
Street: Why do you think a publication like Street is important?
EJ: I think it gives a platform for students' voices which is always what we say Street should be, right? It should be a place for students to express themselves and to find other students expressing things that they can relate to, or that challenge their views. I think if you took Street away, where would people do that on campus? The DP is news and there’s the opinions section but aside from that, where are students expressing themselves in written words about anything? Everything else is pretty specialized and I think Street is sort of like a catch–all. I think the election issue is a really good personification of that. It allowed people to put their voices somewhere where other people could see it. Like yeah, we live in the age of social media and you could write a Facebook status, but I don’t think it’s really the same. And I also think Street’s important because it’s a student publication. It’s very much a—it teaches you something. I always had this fight with the DP. We are a student newspaper. Yes, we are a newspaper, a student newspaper, so our job is to give students who are interested in this type of thing exposure and experience with journalism and a training ground where they can make errors and not have it be a big deal. It’s my job to catch all that shit, not theirs. I think it’s important for the general Penn community because it gives students voices and it’s important to the people who work for it because it’s like a training ground.
Street: What do you miss most about being EIC?
EJ: I miss having a place to be and somewhere to go, and like, being important. I miss having so much responsibility. I’m probably not going to have that much responsibility ever again—well, not ever again, but not for many, many, many years. I miss, people being, not that people are, not that—I don’t miss people being scared of me, but it’s kind of fun in a way. Not that staff was scared of me, but the general Penn population was scared of me. I don’t know, I just miss being important.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn...
EJ: Those who think the Round–Up should be in Street and those who don't.
Street: Who was your first cartoon crush?
EJ: This is a weird question. Well, I wasn’t allowed to watch TV as a kid.
Street: Define as a kid.
EJ: I went to this school called Waldorf school, which is like, it’s like a cult. It’s German, and you weren’t allowed to watch TV. My parents rebelled. I was allowed to watch the Aristocats and Barney and that’s it. So I guess Barney was my first cartoon crush. Maybe the cat in Aristocats, Thomas O’Malley. But then we moved to Philly starting in second grade, and I was eight. But then I only watched Star Wars. The next three years of my life, I watched exclusively Star Wars, and then exclusively Kim Possible, and then I was a teenager.
Street: We’re doing Fuck Marry Kill, but with the added category of sidepiece, for the four undergrad schools, go.
EJ: Fuck, marry, kill, sidepiece. Okay. Marry Wharton, I think. No. Fuck Wharton? Kill Engineering. Yeah. Kill Engineering, fuck Nursing, marry College, sidepiece—no. Kill Engineering. The sidepiece is Nursing. Fuck is Wharton and marry is College.
Street: If you were the eighth dwarf on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, what would your name be?
EJ: I don’t know, that’s really hard because Grumpy is already taken. Salty.
Street: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
EJ: I didn’t know how to read until I was eight.
Street: What were you doing?
EJ: I was in a cult!
Street: No TV and no literacy?
EJ: I didn’t even know lowercase letters until I was eight. I could knit. It’s a great story. When we moved to Philly they were like, "oh she’s eight and her birthday’s in August, she should be in third grade, not second grade," and my parents were like, "listen, like, she can’t read." It’s not really a cult, it just seems like it. It’s a school, they're all over and it's from Germany and it’s founded on some weird ideology about how to educate children. They eventually teach you how to read, I think around fourth grade. I was there through first grade and my teacher would just tell us stories and we’d do arts and crafts. We were learning about lines and my teacher was like, "someone come and demonstrate how to walk in a curved line," I shit you not. I got up in front of the class and walked in a C and she was like, "that was so well done, she didn’t even change directions." I turn my back around, and I told my dad and I was like, "I’m not learning anything, we just learned about lines," and he was like, "well if you keep not learning anything every day, you’ll be the smartest person I know." And I was like, "ehhhh!"
Street: And you learned how to read.
EJ: Within a year.
Street: What’s your weakness?
EJ: My weakness? That’s so like, that’s like an existential—I tend to overthink things. That’s like a, are you like interviewing me for a job? I tend to overthink things. I overthink my relationships with people a lot.
Street: How uncomfortable are you making eye contact?
EJ: So uncomfortable! I can’t. I don’t know. It’s like a thing. The most fun thing about dating someone new for me is like, when they figure it out and if and how they bring it up
Street: Have you been dreading this time honored tradition of interviewing the former EIC?
EJ: Yeah. I like, it’s super weird. I’m also dreading the issue to come out and having the little box be like "Activities: 34th Street."
Street: What's one thing we forgot to ask you?
EJ: Why I'm not in Friars.
Street: Why aren't you in Friars?
EJ: I don’t know. You’d have to ask them, they rejected me twice.