The Walrus in the room: student publication seeks to restore trust after hiatus
After last semester’s hiatus, the current Walrus staff are looking to revamp the publication and be ready to publish its 2017 edition.
Last semester, the publication was plagued with a number of issues that carried into this semester. There was a shifting staff, no office space and a reduced budget that prevented the publication from publishing the 2016 edition – the first break in decades.
English Professor Stephen Ratcliffe has been the advisor for the Walrus since he came to Mills in 1984. Ratcliffe had been in contact with editor Katherine Duckworth who graduated in December last year. Despite not having any office space to work in, Duckworth put together the entire 2016 issue in Lucie Stern, which is currently only in PDF form. After Duckworth graduated, the only editor left, Margot Murphy, never published the 2016 Walrus issue, which is a continued mystery, according to Ratcliffe.
Looking forward, Ratcliffe is concerned with the lack of space and getting the 2016 edition published.
“If we could come out of this with suitable space and enough funding to do last year’s magazine so it can come out late, but the people can be published and get copies and celebrate those students that are still here,” Ratcliffe said, “then we can do next year’s and get back on track.”
Bailey Southgate, a sophomore English student, was recruited by Ratcliffe to be the editor of this year’s publication, after he realized last year’s Walrus was never published. The publication is typically printed in the beginning of May.
The office space issue has also been a problem for Southgate. Currently, the Walrus’s space is in an office closet in Cowell. Southgate also had to rewrite the constitution because she could not find it within the boxes.
“It’s stacked floor to ceiling,” Southgate said. “I feel like I’m intruding on their space because I have to unpack all of the boxes. I’m spreading everything out over her floor while [the staff member is] doing her work.”
Chicora Martin, Dean of Students, has been working with the Walrus about their spacing issues. Martin suggested donating their archives to the library or sharing an office space with The Campanil.
“There has to be a space that is accessible to them in the evenings,” Martin said. “A space that can store all their materials.”
Last year’s problems left many students frustrated with the publication. Southgate is determined to get the Walrus back on track to publish the 2017 edition.
“I’m trying to increase student trust in the publication because I really want people to submit” Southgate said. “Mills students have so much talent and I want it to be highlighted and the Walrus is a great way to do that.”
Southgate is hoping to publish a special 2016 edition with the original accepted submissions to make up for the lack of one in May, however their budget amount is still in question.
“This is a really important student activity outside the classroom; it’s a part of Mills history” Ratcliffe said. “This needs to continue, [otherwise] the students are being damaged.”
The Walrus is accepting submissions until Dec. 20. The Walrus also has a temporary exhibit in the front of the library showcasing the history of the publication.