Street's former Editor–In–Chief Orly Greenberg came back for to us for one final article after several blissful, email–free months. Here's everything you need to know about Orly as EIC, and more:
Name: Orly Greenberg
Hometown: Westlake Village, California
Major: English and Cinema Studies
Activities: 34th Street Magazine, OAX, Kinoki Senior Society, Friars Senior Society
34th Street Magazine: How does it feel returning to Street for this interview?
Orly Greenberg: Weird. It feels really weird. I’m very used to sitting down with people in coffee shops and asking them questions, but I’m not used to talking, so it’s very strange. But exciting!
Street: What was your favorite part of being on Street?
OG: I think it’s honestly working on things that really mattered to me. Because I think it’s a really rare opportunity to go to a school of 10,000 and try to foster stories from that many people. I think that’s a huge privilege just to be able to try your hardest to represent that and give people an outlet. That’s honestly how I felt about the Assault Issue. I was just like, this is so important to me because they’re stories that matter and stories that need to be told and I have the power and the means and the awesome staff to be able to do that. That was just very rewarding. I miss it.
Street: On that note then, what do you miss most about being Editor–In–Chief?
OG: Not the emails. I honestly think I miss a lot, because I miss a lot about the learning curve. I think being Editor–In–Chief is a really unique position where you’re leading a lot of people and you’re managing a lot of people and it’s such a weird opportunity to be able to be in charge of that and to kind of be able to learn with people, and I think that’s what I miss, because every time something crazy would happen, or we’d have to cover something really quickly, or hiring 100 people to be on a staff, that’s a new challenge and I think it pushes you to see what your threshold is and what your blind spots are and what you need to work on. I kind of miss that, constantly being challenged and constantly having to deal with shit. Do I miss that actually? I don’t think I miss that!
Street: What are you most proud of during your time at Street, and your time as Editor–In–Chief?
OG: I think probably the Assault Issue. I think if you had asked me last semester it would have been [cutting] the Roundup, but I think that Street’s just changed so much since then that it almost doesn’t feel relevant anymore. I think the Assault Issue. I literally couldn’t even talk about that without mentioning Dani [Blum, Street’s former Managing Editor] who was just so phenomenal during that time, but I think it felt really good to be an outlet that people trusted with their personal stories and their sensitive vulnerable stories, especially. I think that was a weird combination of journalism but also ethics, and just morals, and just seeing how being a leader in that context and having to support a staff and support your writers at the same time, I will literally never be prouder of anything I’ve ever done in my entire life than that issue. We just worked on it for so long, had been talking about it for so long—complete credit to Dani, it was her idea and she executed it beautifully—and I think that was the moment that I realized the things we do don’t exist in a vacuum. I got emails from people on staff, and I got emails from parents of Penn students, and thousands of people read it and thousands of people were on that project page, and the things that you do on Street and the things that you do in journalism make a difference. They matter, and you could see it, and it was a tangible thing that we did. It was exciting. It was exhausting though, holy shit. That was a week, man.
Street: Speaking of change, how have you seen Street change since you started on staff versus now, second semester of your senior year?
OG: Oh man. I think Street had a weird identity crisis where it was doing some really cool journalism, but it was also doing some really shitty journalism, and in my mind, especially when I took over, you can’t do random bitchy articles and then expect people to take your good journalism seriously. It doesn’t work like that. I think that evolution has been really exciting for me. I see my term largely as a transition period between what I really didn’t want Street to be and getting it to the point where it could actually be what I wanted it to be. That’s also why I’m so proud of Nick [Joyner, current Editor–In–Chief]. I think I did an okay job at building the foundations and getting rid of a lot of the shit that I didn't want, and it’s very satisfying for me to see the next term actually take it a step further and really pursue the things that my Exec and I always really wanted to see for Street. I think the most important sign of leadership honestly is not even doing all the things that you want to do because with Street you’re not going to be able to, it’s the sad truth, you won’t be able to do all the things that you really want to do, but I think starting a precedent and trying to push it in the right direction—I always wanted the person to take over for me to be better than me, and I think that’s really important. And Nick’s definitely taller, so he’s got that.
Street: Was there a part of Street that you liked the least?
OG: Oh yeah, of course! There’s a lot of really impressive leadership positions at Penn, but something with Street is that you see everything that we do, and it’s very tangible, and if you have an issue with it, well, there’s someone to contact! That was definitely the hardest part, was just learning how to be an effective leader and balancing between taking things personally and understanding how I can grow from it and how I can be effective, and also not internalizing it, and not beating yourself up over it, because there were a trillion things that I did that I was just like fuck. You just fuck up. You have to have a thick skin to do this. I think there’s a really big difference between you as a leader and you as a person, and I’m a very sensitive person, but as a leader you just gotta toughen up and be willing to take those hits, because if anyone fucks up it’s just on you. It’s weird because it’s my favorite and least favorite part. Emotionally it was very difficult, but I think I needed that kind of thing.
Street: What do you think Street’s reputation is on campus?
OG: Hopefully it's better than it was. I actually think it’s at a really exciting turning point, because the freshmen coming in? They don’t know about the Roundup, they don’t know about Shoutouts, those have never existed for this whole year. And so I think the reputation it has for seniors it doesn’t necessarily have for freshmen. Which is the really exciting thing about Street because student journalism turns over in four years. Street’s gone through so many huge shifts, and it’s just how it works, everything can be completely different because you cycle out. That’s why it’s so exciting, too. A year felt very short but it also felt very long, because things that you do add up into people who have never seen the magazine. I don’t think it has that bitchy reputation anymore. I’d like to think that it doesn’t, maybe it still does. I still think it's very quirky, and I still think it’s a little off the beaten path, a little bit weird. You gotta be a little bit weird. But hopefully also has a reputation for talking about students in a way that strict journalism cannot, and engaging with students in a way that matters. That’s what I hope its reputation is!
Street: Why did you want to be Editor–In–Chief in the first place?
OG: I ask myself that all the time. I think at Penn it’s really cool to not care about things, which is lame because we all obviously cared about stuff because you have to work your ass off to get into Penn, but I just don’t believe in doing things halfheartedly, and I loved Street, and I just saw a tangible change that I wanted to make, and I kind of think that if you love something and you want to be that change, you gotta go all in. And that’s just who I am as a person—if I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do it all the way. Which is why for me, yeah 40 hours a week sucked and yeah it was really hard, but I just think I personally would not have been satisfied unless I was giving 100% everything that I had to this one thing that I loved. And I’m tired. So tired.
Street: What should every Penn student do before they graduate?
OG: Oh my god, this is not gonna be a lightning round. This isn’t one thing, but I think everyone should try to go to as many shows as they can. Even if you don’t have friends in them, for me Friars was really big because I didn’t have any friends in performing arts before, and now I go to all of these shows, and it’s so fucking fun! And everyone is so talented and good at stuff! If you’re not hitting Bloomers, Mask and Wig, Strictly Funk, Counterparts, you’re not doing it right.
Street: What was your first AIM name?
OG: It was omg3711, but before you print that and embarrass me, O.M.G. are my initials.
Street: What is one song that you know all the words to?
OG: Unrelated, but I have a theory that everyone is born knowing the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody. I think it’s in our DNA to just know all of those words. I swear to God, you turn around and everyone knows all the words to that song because it’s just a DNA thing. God, so many. I don’t know if I would say I know every single word, but I think I could probably do a one man show of Hamilton by myself. I actually think I could do it. It’d be really shitty, but I think I could do it.
Street: What was your favorite Street icebreaker that you ever did?
OG: Well, I know what the worst one was. I really liked what fictional character are you, which I guess is a lame, drier one, but I also like people describing the way that they see themselves, but like, in literature.
Street: So…what fictional character are you?
OG: I would like to say Peggy Olson from Mad Men, but I don’t think I have the guts that she has, or the fashion. I think I just like Peggy Olson is my answer.
Street: And…what was the worst icebreaker?
OG: Probably where you lost your virginity. That’s a bad one. You could just see people’s eyes widen in fear.
Street: If you were a food truck on campus, which one would you be?
OG: I think I would be Schmear It, but I have a reason for that. It’s because the guy who works there on the weekends is super nice and always speaks Hebrew to me and it makes me really happy and I like the bagels, but I have an Israeli name and my Hebrew’s crap, so I like how he always greets me with "Shalom!" I’m like "Thank you, sir!" Gotta get the bagels double toasted though.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn…
OG: I’ve been trying to think about this for so long and I honestly don’t think I can answer. There are so many different ways to go with this. I think there’s two answers to this. So one, there’s people who complain about there not being enough opportunity at Penn, and then there’s people who take advantage of all the opportunities that really are at Penn. Or I think there’s also people who have emailed me really mean things about Street, and there’s people who haven’t, God bless their literal souls.
Street: And you are…
OG: I’d like to think I took advantage of opportunities at Penn. I think as an institution it’s really easy—and don’t get me wrong there’s a lot of things to complain about at Penn—but I do think that there’s just so many good things here, like really really really good things, and I think I'm fundamentally just a different person because I came here, and I think for the better, honestly.
Street: Is there anything you think we forgot to ask you?
OG: You didn’t ask me about the time I met Joe Biden.
Street: How was meeting Joe Biden?
OG: It was dope. We held hands.