From the Campus Correspondent: Fall semester in review

In the next few weeks, MCLA's chapter of Her Campus will conclude its first semester since its relaunch, and as such, it's a time to reflect on what we've done so far and where we want to go in the future.

Some background

The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, or MCLA, is the state's designated liberal arts college, and as such, maintains a literary magazine (Spires) and a student newspaper (The Beacon), both of which I have served on the E-Boards of. I was even the editor of The Beacon for the Spring 2017 semester.

However, throughout the college's history, there have been interest in maintaining a third student-run publication, such as 2013's The Beac, an attempt at an E-Zine led by former Beacon editor Andrew Roiter (http://thebeac.weebly.com), and most notably MCLA's first stab at Her Campus. As well as the year The Odyssey came to campus.

Her Campus originally launched on campus during the 2015-16 school year, led by former Beacon editor Harmony Birch and Yorick Vice President Margaret Kase, but it died within a year, due to drastic losses in staff because of graduation, and the fact that the two ladies who were chosen to be Campus Correspondents for 2016-17 could not fulfill the requirements demanded of the job. But Her Campus was seemingly not needed that year, as that summer, former Beacon writer Paige Pomerantz launched a chapter of The Odyssey on campus, which published material until March of this year (The Odyssey editor at the time, Nicollette Tanzi, told me this was because MCLA's chapter could no longer physically publish content, presumably because the company laid off the Assistant Managing Editor who oversaw the chapter).

As such, MCLA was entering the 2017-18 school year without a second weekly student publication, and Her Campus contacted me to see if I was interested in relaunching the MCLA chapter. Hot off a semester as the Beacon editor, that won me a Hardman scholarship and summer internship, I accepted.

Highlights

Knowing that Her Campus only requires six articles to be published each week, rather than the 20 The Beacon is required to do to fill their physical print pages, I knew that this would allow me to implement a model in which staff writers would be allowed to write bi-weekly, allowing us to focus on quality over quantity of content, like most magazines do (Her Campus is an online lifestyles magazine). This allowed me to bring onboard some writers that wouldn't have normally been able to commit, and use the increased volume of writers to diversify our content.

I implemented section editors, who serve as both curators and content editors, which, when implemented correctly, can create a healthy, functioning mechanism that can almost run itself, with the Campus Correspondent serving as a liaison between the chapter and Her Campus's national representatives, someone to provide overall direction and guidance to the chapter as a whole, and someone who can fill in as needed.

The biggest hurdle this chapter has and continues to be is retention, even when writers are allowed to write bi-weekly. Next semester, the chapter will most likely have to consolidate some of the editor positions to ensure the chapter is catering to as many publics as it can. We have had some great victories on social media, from our early victory scooping The Beacon on social media for our coverage of commencement, to our efforts to publicize and cover on campus events, to our early efforts working with our content partners through our Survival Kit program.

While not all of our content specifically relates to MCLA or the immediate area of North Adams, all content published this semester has been of a certain standard, greatly influenced by our commitment to copy editing and curation. The bar has been raised, one that I hope only increases in the following semesters. This has been largely because of the people I've been able to bring onboard. Some brief shoutouts to individuals who have gone above and beyond to make this semester a success:

Thanks to,

Brigid Downey, for maintaining and sustaining our Entertainment section and Social Media accounts as Entertainment Editor and our Social Media Director. Cat Duhaime, who came to Her Campus from The Odyssey, who established and ran our Love section and filled in whenever she was needed. Molly Mott, a former Spires section editor who has done a great job running our Health and Life sections. Meghan DeMoranville, one of our freshman stars who has produced great work, week in and week out. Alexander Stewart and Andrew Baillargeon, our Opinion section editor and Events Director, respectively, two former Odyssey writers whose writing has injected variety and unique insights into our publication. And thanks to everyone else on staff, Kate Piscopio and Danie Roberts from Her Campus, and anyone else who has helped make Her Campus possible at MCLA this semester!

What's next

Her Campus: MCLA will be electing a new staff for next semester, and, as such, there might be two new campus correspondents for the chapter (though I will remain involved). From the start, I planned on successfully transitioning the chapter to a new leadership team, to allow the chapter to benefit from individuals with fresh ideas and energy, that will hopefully guarantee the chapter's longevity.

Her Campus: MCLA is also seeking affiliation with MCLA's Student Government Association, a process that has been started this semester, and will continue into the Spring.  Depending on how the next few weeks go, there might be some consolidation of Her Campus: MCLA's sections, but there will be plenty of opportunities for new people to get involved in the chapter, either as an editor or a writer. The chapter is also open to getting photographers, videographers and podcasters. Next semester will start off with a Spring recruitment drive.

I am excited to see where the future will bring this chapter.

Thank you,

Mitchell Chapman Her Campus: MCLA Campus Correspondent for the Fall 2017 semester