By Jillian Poland
This month, The Gatepost, Framingham State University’s independent student newspaper, is
celebrating its 85th year in print.
The first edition of The Gatepost, originally known as The Gate Post, was published in March of 1932. The all-female staff published stories about tuberculosis testing on campus, an address from the daughter of President Woodrow Wilson and the changing of the school’s designation from state normal school to state teachers’ college.
President F. Javier Cevallos said, “I think that if the paper was not good, it would not have lasted this long. It speaks volumes about the quality of the paper and the commitment the students have had to journalism ... throughout these 85 years – I mean, it is quite an amazing record.”
Before 1932, a temporary newspaper, The Hilltop News, was available for Framingham Normal School students. When the organization disbanded, it left a sum of $21 to be used by a new student news organization, The Gatepost.
The Gatepost was named after the gate posts situated in front of Hemingway Hall. When graduating classes were smaller, the graduates would walk through the posts after the graduation ceremony.
The Gatepost staff puts out an issue each Friday and produces 24 papers every school year. Each issue has sections focusing on news, campus events and features, editorials and school sports teams.
Each individual section is led by a group of editors and assistant editors who can be elected at any point during the year. At the end of the year, a new editor-in-chief is elected to head the paper. The Gatepost has two faculty advisors who provide guidance for the student journalists when needed.
All Gatepost content, from articles to photographs, is produced, organized and edited by Framingham State University students.
Many campus leaders believe The Gatepost has served as the voice of the community over its 85-year history.
Kim Dexter, director of equal opportunity, Title IX, and ADA compliance, said, “At times, students may say they don’t feel their voices are being heard. Student journalism can provide a voice at those times.”
Dexter said she picks up a copy of The Gatepost every Friday to get an idea about what’s on the minds of students so those concerns can inform her work.
Sean Huddleston, chief diversity and inclusion officer, said The Gatepost serves a critical function for the University.
“That is, to get the voices and experiences of the people who live and learn here, but also to make sure that there is a fair and open inquiry about the educational experience on campus,” he said.
Alexandra Gomes, current editor-in-chief of The Gatepost, shares Huddleston’s view.
“Student journalists are the only ones paying attention to what’s happening on a college campus. Sometimes, you have local newspapers covering big things on a college campus, like if a famous person visits campus or if the university itself wins an award, but you’ll never @nd local newspapers investigating policies or reporting on what administrators are spending the University’s money on,” she said.
“Student journalists are the only check and balance that college governments have,” she added.
Faculty and administrators across campus agree that the content The Gatepost produces each week is high quality.
Dale Hamel, executive vice president, said, “I’m biased on all things FSU, but I’m fortunate that I get to go around to the other campuses, and every time I am on a campus, I pick up their local newspaper and I think by far [The Gatepost] is the most professional and comprehensive student newspaper within the segment.”
Virginia Rutter, sociology professor, said, “If it were possible, the Gatepost seems to get better every single year ... telling our stories and raising important questions. For example, the trans student issue that’s now a couple of years old, the studies on sexual assault, the coverage – remarkable, extraordinarily beautiful coverage – of Black Lives Matter. These are all different kinds of stories that are all very much from an independent point of view.”
Cevallos was able to recall a number of articles that have impacted him. “I remember the story about the homeless student. That was quite a piece of journalism. I mean, it was really well done,” he said.
Huddleston thinks that student journalism, such as the kind practiced at The Gatepost, is an important way for future journalists to get the experience they will need in a career.
“It’s the best internship, practicum, career-immersion experience that I think a college has to offer,” he said.
Gomes said, “Practically speaking, the best part of The Gatepost is all of the experience I’m getting and the portfolio I’m building. But personally, I think the best part about joining The Gatepost, for me, was the family that I gained.”
Faculty on campus believe The Gatepost fosters a sense of community, seeing it as a place where they can have their concerns voiced on a larger scale.
Rutter said she has always understood The Gatepost to be an organization open to ideas from the community.
“It’s a place where I can submit letters to the editor about issues of concern, whether it’s about the faculty contract or about social justice for our students. These are all things that have made my interactions with The Gatepost really meaningful and appropriate,” she said.
Huddleston said he appreciates The Gatepost’s coverage of the diversity efforts on campus.
“The Gatepost has helped to get our story out ... and, to be quite honest, has fairly challenged the work and the efforts that we have put in place to make sure they are inclusive, but also aligned with the goals and the mission of the University,” he said.
Ezequiel De Leon, senior and SGA president, said he’s had good experiences with The Gatepost staff.
“Time and time again, their professionalism and sensitivity has blown me away. Never have I felt that The Gatepost was out to make a story or intrude on people’s personal lives, but never have I seen them shy away from reporting on difficult subjects,” he said.
Melinda Stoops, dean of students, said, “The Gatepost has a history of strong journalism, as
demonstrated by the multiple awards won over the years.”
The Gatepost has won numerous awards since its @rst issue in 1932, including six Mark of Excellence awards from the Society of Professional Journalists this year.
Desmond McCarthy, chair of the English department and Gatepost advisor, said, “The Gatepost is a regionally and nationally recognized newspaper because of the hard work, talent and dedication of successive generations of students. One tangible recognition The Gatepost receives, which validates the high caliber of the newspaper, is the many Society of Professional Journalists awards editors have received. It’s a privilege to advise students who are so civic minded and accomplished.”
Gomes credits the success of the paper to the support it receives from alumni, and the University community.
“Without them we can’t do our jobs,” she said.
With the support of The Gatepost community, particularly advisors Elizabeth Banks and McCarthy, student journalists from FSU have been able to find jobs in the field.
Banks, who worked for the MetroWest Daily News for 14 years, said, “Desmond and I placed dozens throughout the years in internships throughout numerous papers owned by Gatehouse Media. Many of these students were offered full-time positions.” She added, “The campus is really fortunate to have a paper where students are free and encouraged to express their thoughts and ideas.”
Cevallos said The Gatepost is fulfilling an important social role.
“I think that journalism continues to be crucial, and honest, hardworking journalism that reports the news regardless of political sides or personal interest is essential for the society to continue to function. So, to students who are involved in journalism, the only thing I can say is, ‘Please keep doing it,’” he said.