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End of Term Report

BERKELEY, California―June 10, 2014

It has been an extraordinary year for the Forum. In March, Senator Rand Paul stood in front of a packed hall in the International House and warned against the dangers of domestic spying. Less than two weeks later, we sat as Dr. Steven Chu laid forth his vision for a more sustainable energy future. And in April, we had the pleasure of hosting David Chase, creator of The Sopranos, who engaged in a lively discussion with our audience about his views on the future of the television industry.

The past year was also one of profound shifts and refinements in the operations of our organization. We found a new home in the halls of Hearst Gymnasium, where our office and storage units now reside. Our Executive Committee accepted two outstanding classes of students, many of whom have since worked their way up the ranks of our organization. We launched an online ticketing page so that our guests could easily sign up for our most popular events. And we redesigned our website, so that information about upcoming events would be more easily accessible. All in all, it has been quite the year for the Forum, one made all the more exciting by the warm support we have received from guests and attendees alike.

But our past accomplishments have not distracted us from the challenges we face and the unbounded potential for growth that lies ahead. There is still so much work to do — not just in securing new speakers, but in expanding and rethinking the role that a forum should play at a modern university. Moving forward, we must work diligently to lay a strong foundation for an organization that will last well into the 21st century and beyond. And we must do this while remaining steadfast in our commitment to events that are accessible by the many.

Having by now recovered from the anxiety of final examinations, our students are hard at work planning the Fall 2014 term. We are currently finalizing our desired speakers list and will begin sending out invitations later this week. Our fall line-up promises to be our most expansive yet and we anticipate a diverse collection of speakers, many from industries and fields that have yet to be represented at the Forum. That said, should you have any suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our programming committee is eager to receive any speaker suggestions or panel ideas that come its way.

We are also in the process of recalibrating our online efforts. The Technology Division is editing footage of past events and will be displaying them on our web site in the coming month. Photos from several of our past events have been posted on our Facebook page and more albums are forthcoming. The Communications Committee has begun to develop new content and media for our website. And the Internal Affairs Division is busy developing a new recruitment website and application for students interested in joining our staff.

All of this, however, has occurred in a difficult climate for new organizations. While many of the established organizations on campus receive tens of thousands (and, in some cases, sums in excess of $100,000) from the university, younger ones must contend with severe funding restrictions and caps. Moreover, they lack the rich networks of alumni that their older brethren possess.

Despite the widely-covered events we have put forth, the Forum has not been immune to this austerity. For the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the Forum was awarded a total sum of $150 by the Associated Students of the University of California, the student governing body of the Berkeley campus. For the upcoming 2014-2015 academic year, the ASUC has allocated us $600, knowing full well that a single one of our events costs twice that amount to put on.

As such, it has become evident that we will need to rely more than ever on the generous support of friends of the Forum. While grants and university funding will continue to subsidize our programming, we must also forge partnerships with community members and university alumni who similarly see value in the promises of an on-campus forum. Moving forward, it will become difficult, if not impossible, to continue providing our high-quality programming without your support.

The future we face is a volatile one, but it is one that we must and will fight to secure. Every great university deserves a great forum for intellectual debate and free expression. It is due time that Berkeley had its own.


Pierre Bourbonnais