You do not have to go far to hear criticism about the Daily Nexus. You will often hear students complain about articles as you’re walking to class and most Letters to the Editor pieces show discontent with the articles on sex, drugs and alcohol.  These students fear that the paper portrays a negative image of our school but for those who criticize and whine, I have a message for you: write your opinion instead of attacking others.

The Daily Nexus has been the pinnacle of being open to the student voice. Sure we have the sex column, “Left Said, Right Said” and the advice column, but for anyone who pays attention, you will realize that many of the columns are written by people who do not work for the Nexus.

After my time here at UCSB, I have had over 25 articles published in this paper. I have never been paid for an article, nor have I ever been considered a staff member. What mattered to me was getting my voice out to the student body and whoever else found me on the Internet. The Daily Nexus has been more than kind to me, and when I walk across the stage for graduation on June 12, it most certainly will have my many thanks.

Instead of writing pieces to complain about articles, I wrote my opinion. Throughout my UCSB career, I have written articles on globalization, the 2008 presidential election, the Israeli-Palestinian debate, marijuana, torture and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

By the end of it all, I had managed to piss off almost everyone I knew. I even got slaughtered on national radio by conservative talk show host Dennis Prager. I have been called heartless, soulless, someone blinded by my Judaism and, my personal favorite, a person who will “shame you into oblivion.”

Some of those were less rewarding moments. But I have also had an article on then-Senator Joe Biden’s presidential campaign Web site, been told I had opened up people’s eyes on politics and provided a voice against extremism where one was lacking. I even had an anti-Muslim Web site attack me. You know you’re doing something right when bigots go after you.

I have had a good run to say the least. But now Nexus readers and critics, I ask you to voice your opinion. Sure the Nexus has columnists to fill the void on sex, drugs, alcohol and politics, but from what I have seen, the Nexus wants more from the student body. That’s why they give you the opportunity to write for them. They want your opinion no matter how great or stupid it may be.

Right now our voice is more important than ever. In November, we will be deciding the future of our state in the California gubernatorial election. Governor Schwarzenegger released his budget earlier this month. He has proposed eliminating CalWorks, making us the only state to not provide welfare. Cal Grants were on the chopping block last year, and tuition is nearly $4,000 more than it was when I started college four years ago. During the election year higher education is being spared, but when it comes to spending cuts, it is clear that the first priority is to cut back on programs for students and the poor. Make sure the student voice is heard beyond the simple act of voting — write something.

The Nexus gives you a soap box to stand on — stop wasting it by complaining about articles and others’ opinions; that’s what the comment board is for. Instead, add your opinion, your voice, to the paper. With thousands of student readers and every article available online, you never know what kind of impact you could have.

Thank you Daily Nexus for four great years of student opinions and giving me a box to stand on. This paper is our paper, become a part of it.