J. Guild on the rise, hampered by lack of awareness

Each year, groups of students flood into the journalism program contributing $75 of their tuition to the Journalism Guild. In years past, the Guild remained in the background of the journalism program, but now it is in the process of lighting up the tunnel. However, the light seems dim at the moment while the organization is in the midst of a revival.

“The Journalism Guild is supposed to enhance the journalism students’ time at Laurier, and help give them an edge, that little extra above,” says Christina Van Starkenburg, the guild’s president.

The guild is built to support the journalism students, each year offering a variety of events. This year included a line-up of games night, first-year meet and greet, as well as a speaker series that brought professionals in the industry to the Brantford campus.

For this year, Van Starkenburg explained that there will be a year-end gala event in which journalism students can submit works that they are proud of from courses or elsewhere, to build a collection. Students whose works are incorporated have the opportunity to win prizes. Past years also included monthly meetings, but these were cancelled due to a lack of interest and attendance from students.

“Let’s be honest, the name ‘meeting’ makes people not want to go to things,” says Van Starkenburg.

The average attendance for events is anywhere between five to 45 people, depending on the appeal. Meetings generally almost always had minimal turnout, while others had an upwards of the 45, usually for the speaker series. With such a lack of student interest past years, the staff is trying to re-vitalize the Guild.

For all its functions, the Guild spends an average of $80 per event, supplying guest speakers with gifts of gratitude and appreciation, travel expenses for the guests arriving from farther places and occasional refreshments. However, only half of the received funding is dedicated to functions.

The other half is designated for endowment for the journalism program or donations to The Sputnik, Laurier Brantford’s campus newspaper. As of early March, during the 2012-2013 school year, the Guild’s balance sheet for spending totaled $979.44, all of which was spent on Guild events and funding for the CUP NASH 75, a national Canadian University Press media workshop series.

Maintaining a balance sheet for the Guild’s spending is not something that has always been done. Since Van Starkenburg’s presidency and involvement in the Guild, she has sought to maintain such records that she believes were “shoddily kept” in the past.

In addition to better kept records and the development of newer events to create a fresher calendar, the Journalism Guild has tried reaching out to students in other ways. Van Starkenburg explained that the Guild puts up posters, e-mails students and posts about events on Facebook to inform people.

Yet with all these efforts it still appears to be lacking in some ways according to journalism students at Laurier Brantford.

Candice Evans, a third-year student in the journalism program says that the students don’t really know what the Journalism Guild does.

“I think that most journalism students either don’t know about it or only have a passing knowledge, as in they know they fund it through the fees they pay, but not what it actually does or how it’s meant to help us,” said Evans, “There’s just not enough promotion.”

In a similar tone, Nicole Nelson, also a third-year student, formerly in the journalism program suggested that the events are “uninteresting.” Like Evans, she also commented that “it doesn’t advertise to my knowledge.”

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