Is it the swine flu? Maybe it is the sudden realization that yes, school really has begun and yes, you do have a 10-page paper to write and a lab report due—yesterday. Whatever the cause, we have noticed a dearth in submissions to these back pages of the Orient, the Opinion section.

Nevertheless, we are glad you are here now. If you are a newcomer, welcome! If you have ventured this far before, welcome back. While Orient staff members and contributors generate the content of News, Features, Arts and Entertainment, Sports and Calendar, this section is reserved especially for you. In literally setting aside pages of space for student submissions, we place a great deal of trust in the student body. We want you to take ownership of this space.

This proposition may intimidate you. Attaching your name to a strong opinion requires guts; the whole College can read it in print, and the entire world can read it online. But writing a 200-word letter to the editor on your latest gripe really isn't that scary. Rather than just rambling to your friends, construct an argument around your point and send it to us.

Consider our situation as undergraduate college students. Most of us have moved at least a car ride away from home, many of us farther. We chose this campus, in this town in Maine, as the place to spend this formative time of our lives. We are constantly exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking in and out of class. All of these factors put us in a unique and exciting situation to form new thoughts and challenge old ones. We have positioned ourselves for intellectual and social growth—the Opinion pages offer you an outlet to flex and stretch your analytical muscles.

We intend for the content of this paper to be interesting, engaging and relevant enough to elicit varied responses from the student body. We challenge you to compose written work outside of the classroom besides a Facebook post or text message. Haven't you ever picked up the Orient, read an article or op-ed, and had a reaction worth writing about? Or perhaps you have noticed something on campus, in town, or on CNN that bothers you. Even if the topic has yet to be addressed in the Orient or on campus, you can be the first.

It doesn't take committing to an 800-word op-ed to get your point across—letters to the editor that cut to the chase are often just as, if not more, effective forms of communication. Turning your ideas into light reading over lunch at Thorne can spark a greater impact than you might anticipate, whether in the form of changes to College policy or weeks of debate surrounding one op-ed piece.

We hope that you will fill these pages with thoughtful, honest and diverse dialogue. We want you to reflect on tough class discussions, both those where you could not stop speaking and those where you didn't get the chance. We want this to be your forum for resuming the dining hall or common room conversations too soon cut short by other obligations. We want you to take a stand, speak up, and challenge each other in these common pages.

As corny as it sounds, we would love to hear from you. And, chances are, other readers of the Orient are interested in hearing from you, as well.