The Forum has existed at Westminster College as far back as 1947. It has had many names and many staff members.
But who is The Forum now and what is its purpose?
“The mission of The Forum is to educate the Westminster community about events that affect them,” said Gwenna Salazar, The Forum’s online and social media manager.
An important part of The Forum is that it isn’t overseen by Westminster’s administration, but by students.
“It can present, hopefully, objective information about what’s going on in Westminster and the surrounding community so students get that information from a viewpoint that isn’t the institution itself,” Salazar said.
The Forum sat down with our own Editor-in-Chief Cami Mondeaux to talk about what The Forum is, how they make their decisions and what they do for Westminster. Answers have been lightly edited for clarity and conciseness.
Who is The Forum?
A: The Forum is Westminster’s only student-run news organization. We cover everything from campus events to local stories to national issues. Basically just covering everything we think is relevant to our audience. And our audience is everybody like students on our campus, faculty and staff, also alumni and also the surrounding community in Sugar House.
What role does The Forum play on campus?
A: I think The Forum plays an important role. I think that we cover all the stories that people wouldn’t know about on campus if we didn’t write about it. We cover what the administration is doing, what student government is doing and we cover the issues that they should know about and they care about.
What is the philosophy behind The Forum?
A: It’s really interesting because Westminster is a private institution. At most private institutions, the news organization or newspaper there wouldn’t have editorial independence. So normally the administration or faculty member would have control over what’s published and they would have to read through everything.
But The Forum it’s completely unique. We have editorial independence. So everything that’s reported on, written, edited and published is completely through students. We really can publish whatever we want.
With that, there does come some caveats because obviously, we have high standards for what we publish. We don’t want to publish things that are unfair or don’t show both sides of a situation. We do have high editorial standards but we do have that freedom.
Why is that freedom important?
A: That editorial freedom is important because it allows us to cover the stories that maybe don’t make Westminster look as glossy and perfect as maybe some people want it to. We show the real side.
By doing that we can actually ignite change on campus if needed. We can cover if a certain sports team doesn’t get as much funding as other teams should do. We show that. If some students have opinions that something’s unfair, we give them a platform to show that.
I mean we’re called The Forum because that’s really what we want to do. We want to be a forum for students, providing this platform where they can write opinions that they have, they can share their experiences that should be shared with the rest of campus.
So it’s important that we have that freedom and that independence because otherwise, those stories wouldn’t be told.
How can students who want to express their opinions get involved with The Forum?
A: Primarily the staff of The Forum is through a class of communication majors. But our staff is not limited to communication majors. […] A lot of people will either come up to me with an idea of something they want to be published or they’ll email me an idea they want published.
Basically, that process is you pitch your idea, we say either we’re going to run with it or we don’t, you write a draft and we just go through some edits with you so if we think you need another source in an area we’ll suggest that, if you need better organization we’ll go through that.
But really anybody can write and be published in The Forum regardless of what they want to write about. We just work with everybody to put that idea into fruition.
Where can people find The Forum?
A: People can find The Forum online at wcforummedia.com or they can follow us on social media. We have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all the same handle @wcforummedia. We also have print papers that go out once a month. You can find those all around campus. We do publish online daily and we have podcasts that go up on Soundcloud.
So it’s not just a print newspaper, that’s why we call ourselves a news organization and not a newspaper because we have so much more than just a print newspaper.