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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

Tufts Roundtable a new forum for political discourse

Frequenters of racks bearing campus publications gained another choice last week, when the Tufts Roundtable published its inaugural issue on Oct. 30. But readers had to act fast — copies of the non-partisan political analysis magazine flew off the racks and were difficult to find come Election Day.

The publication's founders said they created the magazine to fill a void in on-campus political discourse, which they said has been dominated by partisan rhetoric.

"We thought that there was no place, no forum, for political speech to take place in a way that was non-partisan," said sophomore Sam Wallis, the magazine's editor-in-chief and one of its three founders. "That was really the motivation behind it, just to usher in a new age of political discretion at Tufts and into Boston as well."

The first issue focuses on the presidential election. It features nearly a dozen articles on both of the candidates in Tuesday's presidential election, as well as coverage of local, national and international issues such as the war in Iraq, Russia's relations with the United States and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Green Line Extension project.

"I think we really did provide a guide to the election that didn't just show one side," Wallis said.

Although Tufts already has a number of publications that provide a platform for community members to air their political beliefs, magazines such as the conservative journal, The Primary Source, and The Forum, a Tufts Democrats-sponsored magazine, generally take a more partisan approach to political writing.

The Roundtable's founders hope that it will find a niche among other Tufts political publications. Wallis noted that the election coverage, which featured a color-coded U.S. map and Electoral College predictions, presented a respite from hyperbole and sarcasm.

"We avoid the type of partisan rhetoric that we think has been too prevalent not only in those publications but also in the political debate on campus," Wallis said.

Along with co-founders and fellow sophomores Chas Morrison and Shabazz Stuart, Wallis began stoking on-campus interest in the magazine last semester. The students, who are all Tufts Community Union (TCU) senators, continued to advertise over the summer through a posting on the "Tufts Class of 2012" group, Wallis said, and held a general interest meeting in September. The publication is not associated with the TCU Senate.

The Institute for Political Citizenship (IOPC), part of the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, funded the first edition.

Senior Matt Shapanka, a TCU senator who sits on the student board of the IOPC, connected the co-founders with Nancy Wilson, the director and associate dean of Tisch College.

The idea was well received by the IOPC board, which is comprised entirely of students, Shapanka said. "We broached the subject with [Wilson]," he said. "She was supportive of the idea but of course she had questions about putting this thing together."

Due to the Roundtable's nonpartisan nature, it encompasses a number of student groups. Wallis explained that any students or local community members can submit an article.

Shapanka said the Roundtable is in line with the IOPC's goals. "We aim to bridge the gap between community service and politics [and] keep people involved in the policy-making process after Election Day," he said. "They needed a place to get started and the IOPC was the logical home for a publication like this."

For the first issue, Tisch College fully supported the publication both institutionally and financially. In the future, Roundtable editors hope that the magazine will make enough money from advertising revenue and subscriptions to become more financially independent.

Sarah Butrymowicz contributed reporting to this article.

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