Editor’s Corner

With the 2017-2018 Academic Year, the mission of the Herald changed. After focusing for so long on both campus and broader issues, it was determined that, to stay relevant, the Herald had to focus solely on campus issues and became a newspaper for the students of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. This idea, created and initiated in the Fall 2017 by Dan Bristol, led to the merging of the News and Campus Happenings sections into one overarching News area that covered the campus. With this, the Herald began the long trek to renewed interest on the campus and becoming “A Voice for the Students.”

When Alex Kerai returned from abroad in Spring 2018, and took over as Editor-in-Chief with Dan Bristol serving as Managing Editor, he and Dan worked to push the Herald further as a publication and to start discussions pertaining to campus issues. With that goal in mind, the Herald evolved from a newspaper to more of a news-magazine. Dictated in part by the monthly publication schedule, the Herald began to focus more on in-depth and investigative work, along with its well-known Arts & Entertainment section. The Investigations from the Herald included looking into Sodexo (the food provider on campus), the College Store’s rebranding and possible move, accessibility and inclusivity at HWSthe new food pantry, President Gregory Vincent’s alleged plagiarism, and the handling alleged sexual misconduct on campus.

These pieces – and many more covering the Welcome Back Concert, Theatre productions, the Davis Gallery, the Commencement Speaker, the library, and Student Trustees – formed the backbone of the Herald‘s mission statement: “A Voice for the Students.” It is the goal of the Herald to provide a voice to the students body.

Below are the “Letters to the Reader” written by the Editor-in-Chief of the Herald. They organized chronologically. They frequently address topics going on around the school or within the pages of the Herald, while the first few from Alex Kerai also address the changing mission of the Herald in the lead up to the publication of the Herald‘s three-month long investigation into the handling of alleged sexual misconduct at HWS.

For more information, you can Contact the Herald!

 April 6, 2018

Dear Readers of the Herald,

In January, I came back from abroad and held a meeting with the editors of the Herald to determine what topics we wanted to cover for the year. From that meeting on January 19, we came up with a variety of topics that many of you have already seen covered in the pages of the Herald this semester: food scarcity on campus, the mistreatment of Sodexo workers, student bands, the college store, and the 2018 Commencement speaker.

One of the other big topics we discussed at that meeting was Title IX and sexual assault on our campus. The 2017 “Living Safely” report had been published by the Office of Campus Safety and noted that there were fourteen reports of rape on the campus in that year. Those numbers troubled us and we wanted to figure out where the issues were. In the course of nearly three months, we interviewed eighteen individuals on this campus – students, survivors of sexual harassment and assault, faculty, and staff – and began to discover that the only way a change will come about is through the students.

With April being sexual assault awareness month, there is no better time to discuss this issue on campus. The graduating classes of 2018 matriculated into an institution that was grappling with fallout from The New York Times article. Their college experience was defined by the institution’s attempt to bring its response to sexual misconduct into compliance with the law and attempt to make this safer for all students.

The Herald stands as “A Voice for the Students” and that is why we took on this topic and are publishing about it today. It is something that will only change with student momentum behind it, and it is something that needs student voices.

I want to commend the work of The Herald News Team in their investigation and subsequent articles. They have done a tremendous amount of work in securing sources and interviews, documents and statistics in a short period of time on an extraordinarily difficult topic. An Op-Ed was submitted to the Herald as well, with the wish that they be published anonymously due to a fear of retribution from campus culture, and I am honored to publish all of those pieces today. It takes incredible courage to write what these individuals did, and I hope that the plethora of pieces we have on this disturbing topic will galvanize students and bring the student voice to the forefront of this discussion.

During that same January meeting we determined that we were going to make a push to find more writers and I am so thankful that we found such a talented staff to make the Herald a reality every month. It is incredibly difficult to put together a newspaper for each edition – especially because we are also a small paper with a small staff. But to have put out three editions, with all student writing, is a huge accomplishment that would not have been possible without the incredible contributions of our student writers. I am grateful to each and every one of them for their hard work and dedication to student journalism at Hobart & William Smith.

I want to take a moment to specifically thank every writer who has contributed to the Herald this semester. I also want to thank the Editorial Team – Quinn Cullum in News, Mary Warner in Arts & Entertainment, and Dan Bristol who was both the Photography and Managing Editor – who have ensured that all sections of writing, and photography, run smoothly and are ready for print each month. In particular though, I want to thank our senior staff writers who will be graduating in a few weeks: Phoebe MacCurrach, Kathleen Fowkes, Jackie Fisher, Quinn Cullum, and Dan Bristol.

Quinn and Dan served as Editors and we have worked closely together these past few months. As News and Managing Editor, respectively, I am grateful for their friendship, advice, and writing. Their contributions to the Herald have been profound and will reverberate beyond these final pages that we publish together.

I cannot help but note that the Herald seems to have entered into a new era of relevance on our campus. We have become a voice for the students and it is because of the incredible and committed work by this team of editors and writers. With this being our last issue of the semester, I would like to thank everyone for their continued support of the Herald and for student journalism on our campus.

I want to close by saying that we, the students of Hobart & William Smith Colleges, have the chance to make change on our campus for the betterment of our friends and peers. I hope that this issue will serve as a wake-up call and lead to discussions that do not ever stop. Title IX is one of the biggest issues the Herald will ever write about – it’s one of the biggest issues our campus will ever face – and we cannot let it pass by.

We need to act. We need to act together, not just as Hobart or William Smith but as one college united under a singular goal to make those on our campus feel safe, secure, and valued. We need to start acting today.

Now, the great work begins. Let us keep it up and never let the momentum stop. Maintain the voice for every student, and never fall silent again.

Sincerely,

Alex Kerai

Editor-in-Chief of the Herald

 

February 9, 2018

Dear Readers of the Herald,

The Herald as an institution exists to be by and for the students of Hobart & William Smith Colleges. Our topics cover those relating to campus events or activities, and all of our writers and staff are students on campus. Our goal is to reveal the truth of HWS and contribute to a better form of journalism that leads to a safer and more productive campus culture for all students. I feel it necessary to repeat this mission statement as we continue our refocusing of the Herald. I think it is also important to note that we are a separate entity from the institution of the Colleges; we do receive funding to publish from the Budget Allocation Committee, but we do not commit to any oversight or regulation over what we cover or what we print. Instead, we adhere to journalistic and free press standards that allow us to dig deeper into the campus and not just cover surface level issues. We are purposefully not monitored or governed by the Colleges; we are a free press.

I think that it is important to recognize those facets of the Herald and to understand that we are not just a student newspaper looking to have fun and write a couple of cool stories. We are here to look deeper into the Colleges and to highlight the student voice. That it is paramount to what we do and bears repeating: the Herald exists to highlight the student voice.

Since the publication of our last issue, I have heard a lot of conversations revolving around the Herald and what we published, as well as had conversations with numerous people about our content and what we do. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the purpose of our paper in this day and age, and the importance of a separate and free press that is allowed to pursue stories without fear of retribution. (Granted, those stories have to be related to students, but it is important to me and to the Herald as a whole that we operate with the respect of the Colleges and are free to do our own work.) But we are not just concerned with writing stories that challenge the administration. There are a lot of great things going on around campus that we also want to highlight! Our Arts & Entertainment section has been a great showcase of incredible artistic achievements on campus. We aim to provide a full view of the campus, covering aspects of life at HWS that are not always highlighted.

The Herald, much like other institutions at the Colleges, is at a fork in the road – a turning point – where we have the power to change the perception of the campus and further change. To do that, we aim to start to start conversations within the student body – and I want to thank everyone who has talked to someone about the Herald because that means that our message and our work is getting out there. Our focus, as a newspaper, is on pieces that will be informative to the campus community. We publish Opinion pieces by students, we highlight student work and achievement, and we do a lot of pieces that dig into topics with the school. One thing that I am particularly proud of – and I would like to encourage all students reading the Herald  to consider – are the writers who have contributed pieces to us recently. In this issue too, we have seven special pieces by guest writers contributing an Op-Ed on the library, a reflection of time spent on Budget Allocation Committee, and five pieces from Student Trustee candidates. Along with our staff’s fantastic contributions with each issue, these writers allow us to showcase the diverse array of voices on campus.

I had a conversation recently with Dan Bristol, the Managing Editor of the Herald where, as we were discussing the stories for this issue, it became apparent that we were moving away from the typical definition of what a newspaper does. Although we do have “news” pieces, a lot of our work tends to focus on the experience of being a student at Hobart & William Smith. To that end, Dan noted that we are a newspaper, but more important “we are also the voice of the students.” In this issue alone we have an amazing group of fifteen contributors who are writing about topics such as Finger Lakes Photo/Plays at the Smith Opera House, HWS Just Facts, and the role of Student Trustees on campus among other things – they are adding to the voice of the students. All of these topics relate to students, and all are written from a student prospective. Most importantly, they cover a wide variety of student life on campus.

The point is that we are positioning the Herald to function as a voice of the students and a way to promote conversation among students about a variety of topics. I hope that we have, with each issue, provoked discussions across all areas of the Hobart & William Smith Colleges community, and instilled within students an inherent to talk about the issues they may have with the school. I believe that it is possible that we can fix things that we, the students, to believe issues on the campus. We are in a unique position. There is a new President who is installing a new administration while actively preparing for a capital campaign. We, the students, are in a position to make change. All we need to start the conversation.

Thank you all for reading this issue and thank you to everyone who has talked about our last issue. We are glad to be reaching an audience within the student body and various communities on campus. Our role is to be a voice for the student body – the Herald is an institution by and for the students of Hobart & William Smith Colleges. I look forward to the discussions and conversations that we will have on campus in the near future.

I look forward to hearing from our readers about the stories we publish. Please feel free to contact us at herald@hws.edu with questions or comments – or if you would like to help contribute and write for the Herald this semester.

Our next issue will be published April 7.

Sincerely,

Alex Kerai

Editor-in-Chief of the Herald

 

February 9, 2018

Dear Readers of the Herald,

In 1879, the Herald was established by the students of Hobart & William Smith Colleges for the students of Hobart & William Smith Colleges as well as the greater community. As we began our transition in the fall semester to a refocused Herald, there were discussions over what constituted student journalism and what was important for the Herald, as the student newspaper, to cover. Beyond the confines of our campus there have been many opinions about the integrity of journalism and its reception within the community. This has influenced how journalists work and the pieces they report on; this should not be the case.

In November, the Editorial Board of The Middlebury Campus published a piece responding to criticism of their coverage of the campus by the administration. They noted that the role of the campus newspaper is not to publicize a positive perception of the school – that is the role of  Communications, Marketing, and Admissions. The campus newspaper is the platform for the student experience. That is, undoubtedly, the goal of every student newspaper and yet our seems to have been lagging in recent years.

This is not a space to place blame, but rather to acknowledge a changing  climate where the stories we report now have the chance to make a difference in the way we live and study at Hobart & William Smith. With the newly inaugurated President Vincent planning to embark upon a capital campaign rumored to be around half a billion dollars, the Herald, and the student body as a whole, is in a unique position to advocate for change on the campus –and to have their voices heard.

Reading through the Campus piece, and following the wide-range of articles published on the current United States government, has instilled within the team at the Herald a need to provoke and unveil truth on campus. We cannot be scared of retribution or the idea of being shut down; we are a free-press institution removed from the arm of the campus administration, a separate entity that works solely for the student body. There are not ties that bind us to the institution we report on, save from the fact that we are students here, and our work with the newspaper cannot be classified as being for or against the insitution or the people it represents but rather for the needs of the students. If we cannot allow for students and faculty to engage in discussion this semester over the stories we publish, then the Herald will have succeeded in its goals.

To that end, we must do better to reveal the truth of HWS and contribute to a better form of journalism. Yes, there are campus-wide human interest stories that are important to cover – such as the President’s Inauguration – that will not provide anything new for the student body or be groundbreaking pieces of journalism, yet it is our job to not continuously produce such material but instead to challenge both our staff and our readers in their perception of the HWS community so that the Herald becomes a reliable publication noted on campus for tackling subjects that may otherwise lay dormant.

There are stories we can cover and problems that we can bring to the forefront of campus discussion without glorifying them or becoming a publication that runs on gossip and sleazy headlines. We instead will be the place to have discussions about what makes Hobart & William Smith tick and what can be done to make it better. That is the key: to become a discussion based publication wherein we both initiate and encourage the discussion of topics that give students a voice in proceedings – be them in Department meetings, with the Board of Trustees, or anywhere else on campus.

We are members of the campus community and we have a say, it is important that we let our voices be heard for reasons both good and bad as we are all on this campus hoping to have a good experience and any improvements should be vocalized. We are a publication that goes all over Geneva and is supposed to speak for the campus. If anything, these past few months have showed me how important a free press is and the potential it has to make a difference.

Consider this our new mission statement. As we move forward, and I begin my tenure as Editor-in-Chief of this great institution, we strive to report the news and contribute to discussions that will lead to a more positive campus culture for all students. The Herald has the potential to be the publication that enables the student voice. For the next issues that we publish this semester and beyond we will strive to meet that goal, and we hope that you, the students and members of this campus, will join us unequivocal so that we can generate change in this institution.

I look forward to hearing from our readers about the stories we publish. Please feel free to contact us at herald@hws.edu with questions or comments – or if you would like to help contribute and write for the Herald this semester.

Our next issue will be published March 2. Now, the great work begins.

Sincerely,

Alex Kerai

Editor-in-Chief of the Herald