In 1897, a ship named Belgica sailed southern waters toward Antartica on the Belgian Antarctic Expedition. Frost crusted on the wooden deck, and flags representing countries from around the world flew in the chilling air. In a time when exploration often led to exploitation, Commandant Adrien de Gerlache withstood pressure from King Leopold II, and declared the trip purely scientific. The well-intended effort soon turned into a harrowing struggle for survival. The crew of 18 men fought off scurvy and insanity but never wavered in their mission. Belgica became a model of international scientific collaboration, proving that exploration does not always have to mean conquest.
Over the past few months at the University of Toronto Mississauga, surrounded by students and staff from different parts of the world and walks of life, we’ve felt an immense sense of responsibility preparing for the upcoming year. Our predecessors, The Erindalian and Medium II, were formed during times when community bonds and sharing stories through weekly print issues were integral to the campus experience. Student journalism was not just a means of amplifying student voices; it was meant for documenting history. We believe that The Medium still holds that role.
This summer has been a journey of discovery. We discovered our website was terribly slow, to the point where one waited longer than two minutes for a page to load. We also discovered that society changed, and students were seeking new forms of media to consume. As we kept our ear to the ground, we found that there was far more happening on campus than we could even begin to keep track of. Unfortunately, we also learned that many students didn’t know they could write for The Medium because they didn’t consider themselves “writers,” or weren’t aware that we welcome everyone to contribute. The thought of inviting students to our cluttered office, a place where anyone is welcome to chat about life or journalism, made us realize that our home needed a little sprucing-up. And especially during a time of isolation due to lockdown, as we bantered and clashed, we discovered that we’re all looking for a little more connection.
Hence triggering a sequence of mini missions: we rebuilt our website with a fresh but familiar look and improved user experience; we began Season 2 of our podcast, The Medium/The Message; and created new video content about the UTM campus. We also started outreach initiatives through Discord and our social media, recruited new appointed roles such as correspondents and a comic artist, and revived weekly editorials. In addition, we’ve started columns like From Liz, With Love, a column on intimacy and relationships, and Ear to the Ground, a column about campus quirks. Our bookshelves were reorganized, publishing process streamlined, and team trained by former editors in hopes of becoming a worthy space for aspiring journalists.
Our team, similar to the Belgian Antarctic Expedition crew, is filled with people of different backgrounds. We hope that whatever we encounter, lest that be scurvy or (more likely) insanity and stress, we will stay true to our mission. We’re relying on you, reader, to keep us accountable. Don’t let us get caught up in the week-to-week tasks that make us lose track of our bigger intentions. Don’t be afraid to call us out, to encourage us to do better, and to give us an opportunity to grow. Rather than seeking to fulfill personal agendas, we’re committing, akin to de Gerlache’s exploration of the unknown deep South, to our own exploration and documentation of student life.
We want to be brave and call this publishing year Volume 48: The Medium Renaissance. We hope you’ll stick around.
Liz Provost (Editor-in-Chief, Volume 48)
& Elisa Nguyen (Managing Editor, Volume 48)