The advent of a new year in the turbulent aftermath of the last comes, at least, with a dose of certainty: Street's annual transition of power is again complete. Beatrice Forman (C ’22) will take command as editor–in–chief, overseeing the operations of the magazine and managing an executive board of three other senior editors. Campus editor Chelsey Zhu (C ’22) will supervise Street’s Features, Word on the Street, Ego, and Style sections, culture editor Mehek Boparai (C ’22) will direct Street’s Focus, Music, Arts, Film & TV, and special issues content, and assignments editor Karin Hananel (C ’22) will mentor and train the magazine’s team of staff writers.
Three editors will also assist Beatrice on an internal board within the magazine: Caylen David (C ’23) as Street’s audience engagement editor, Alice Heyeh (C ’22) as design editor, and Jesse Zhang (C ’24) as multimedia editor. They will report directly to their respective department heads and indirectly to Beatrice.
Since she first joined the Street executive board as the inaugural culture editor a year ago, Beatrice has been crafting a specific vision that she plans to enact as editor–in–chief. “I want to continue growing Street into a magazine that trains the next crop of emerging journalists in person–first, justice–driven reporting,” Beatrice says. “This means pushing Street to become a publication that centers social justice and the marginalized communities that push for it on Penn’s campus in all that we do.”
Beatrice, a communications and political science double major from Peekskill, N.Y., will be Street’s first Latinx editor–in–chief. She will also fill the role of The Daily Pennsylvanian’s Diversity Committee Chair for a second term. Last year, she spearheaded the creation of the Daily Pennsylvanian Fellowship, which offers five $4,000 scholarships to BIPOC students at Penn so they can join the DP without worrying about financial constraints.
“I’m really excited to welcome our first class of fellows, help oversee the program, and see how it transforms our work,” Beatrice says. “The DP Fellowship is something I wish existed when I was a [first year]—it would’ve made me feel more confident in my sense of belonging at the DP and in my desire to become a journalist.”
After the murders by police of Breonna Taylor in March and George Floyd in May, the call for newsrooms to actively engage in appropriate anti–racist initiatives and examine traditional journalistic norms from a moral perspective grew in volume and urgency. Street responded by doubling down on summer coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement and concentrating these articles under a new tab, initially labeled #BLM, on 34st.com.
“We must commit to being anti–racist and understanding how impartiality—giving equal time to both sides of the issue—can isolate readers of color when that issue is a police killing or a hate crime,” Beatrice says.
By the beginning of the fall 2020 semester, Street’s #BLM tab was established permanently as a new section of the magazine and renamed Focus. During her time as culture editor, Beatrice played an instrumental role in the development and rollout of the new section, which occurred after her summer position at Philadelphia Magazine.
“I’ve been so lucky to intern at organizations that acknowledge how journalistic standards are changing,” Beatrice says. “It is not enough just to be impartial and report the facts, hoping readers take away the right thing.”
Beatrice's personal career goals as a future journalist, along with her vision for Street and the Focus section, solidified that summer. At Philadelphia Magazine, Beatrice helped compile a database of over 300 Black–owned businesses in Philadelphia—an assignment that completely changed her outlook on the media industry.
“This article catalyzed an entire career one–eighty for me,” Beatrice says. “I no longer wanted to write about music and pop culture. I want to be a journalist post–grad who reports at the intersection of business, tech, and pop culture that unveils exactly how internet trends and emerging enterprises affect communities of color.”
The Focus section will be supervised by culture editor Mehek Boparai, an English major and aspiring fiction author from Hanford, Calif. Mehek has been writing creative prose and poetry “forever” (in her words), and her hefty list of Street bylines spans five of the magazine’s eight sections. As to her goals for the upcoming year, Mehek plans on using her extensive editorial experience to refine Street’s voice and brand in all of the content she touches.
“[I want] to make Street the crux of contemporary culture,” Mehek says. “[Street is] the perfect blend of narrative writing and informative journalism. Its lens is educational but also tasteful—and I aim to expand it across every piece.”
Mehek joined Street during her first–year spring as a staff writer, continued into the summer as an Entertainment beat reporter, and then spent another semester writing as a Music beat. She entered her first leadership position as a Word on the Street co–editor in the spring of 2020, and then a second co–editorship in the fall at the helm of the Focus section. With no precedent, Mehek crafted the Focus brand, finding its permanent niche as the leading culture section within Street’s overall structure, content, and voice.
“I am looking forward to working with incredibly intelligent, talented women who each have such a vivid view on the world and a cohesive image of where Street is heading,” Mehek says. “I have cherished my time writing and editing across so many different sections, and Street is a wonderful place to call home at Penn.”
The other four sections of the magazine will be directed by campus editor Chelsey Zhu. During her two semesters leading Street Features as section editor, Chelsey, an English major from Murfreesboro, Tenn., also contributed significantly to the section herself. She singlehandedly wrote—while simultaneously editing her own writers’ work—six Feature pieces covering topics such as the Penn community’s response to the initial pandemic–induced quarantine, systemic racism in health care, and the experiences of Uyghur students in Pennsylvania.
“Working in Features for so long definitely helped prepare me to think about the big–picture goals of Street and how to better implement activism and advocacy into our writing,” Chelsey says.
Chelsey’s first encounter with journalism was actually her starting role as an Ego beat reporter. She then moved on to contribute to Features as a writer before being chosen to lead the section. Chelsey was also selected as one of four Street staffers to enroll in the first paid DP internship program last summer: As an education intern at Forbes (under the mentorship of DP alumna and Vox Editorial Director for Culture and Features Julia Rubin), she both wrote and fact–checked articles—one of which, authored by Chelsey alone, has been viewed nearly 40,000 times.
“I think the awesome thing about Street is that it really pushes you to do things you’re afraid of,” Chelsey says. “I’m so glad that I took the chance.”
Outside of Features, Chelsey plans on working with the Style, Ego, and Word on the Street section editors to pursue longer and more in–depth stories than those that have traditionally characterized campus content outside of Features. She also hopes to foster a sense of camaraderie among every student working at the magazine.
“I want to make Street feel more like a community and have all staffers think of it as a place they can turn to for friendships, not just for creative freedom and journalism experience,” Chelsey says.
“Although,” she added, “both of those things are super awesome too.”
Each incoming editor began their Street careers differently: Mehek was initiated as a staff writer in the spring of 2019, along with Chelsey, who began as an Ego beat. Beatrice joined as a Style beat during her first semester at Penn, as did assignments editor Karin Hananel, the fourth member of Street’s executive board. Known as Street “lifers,” Beatrice and Karin have been actively involved with Street since they first came to campus over two years ago.
Karin hails from Philadelphia, Pa. and is majoring in international relations and French and Francophone studies. She started at Street with the fall 2018 class of staff writers under the leadership of Annabelle Williams, Street’s first–ever assignments editor who later took on the role of editor–in–chief. Karin then quickly rose through the ranks, continuing to write as a Style beat for two semesters, before taking on the role of special issues editor for both semesters prior to being elected assignments editor.
“I joined Street after lots of convincing from my parents that I was a good writer,” Karin says. “I had been too scared to write for my high school newspaper—it seemed too cutthroat. That means that all of my formal writing and journalism experience has been with Street.”
The role of the Street assignments editor is to organize a hiring and training process for new writers, who learn the ropes of the magazine in a low–pressure position by reporting to a senior editor who is expert in Street brand, voice, and style. Karin, like Chelsey, wants to encourage the development of friendships among Street staff, especially those new to the magazine under her wing.
For the entirety of 2020, Karin headed the development and execution of Street’s special issues—but only one had been scheduled for publication before Penn’s unprecedented closure in March. Following a successful Love Issue the week of Valentine’s Day in February, Karin was deep in preparations for the Spring Dining Guide when Penn evacuated its campus.
With few students to pick up paper magazines and faced with an uncertain future post–COVID, Street paused print production for the first time in its 52 years of existence. The magazine’s formerly concentrated team of writers, editors, photographers, videographers, marketers, designers, and illustrators were suddenly scattered across time and space, and it was necessary for leaders at Street to keep the sense of community alive by taking on additional duties.
Karin, thanks to her semesters of experience as a Style beat, stepped in temporarily as Street’s Style editor during the first few months of the pandemic—all while coordinating the magazine’s first wholly digital special issue: the Class of 2020 Penn 10, which went live the morning of Penn’s virtual commencement. In the fall, Karin led the construction of the first Dine–In Guide in lieu of the traditional dining guide, which would have been impossible to produce during the pandemic.
“While we could have written reviews and acted like everything was normal, it just wasn’t right,” Karin wrote in a letter from the Dine–In Guide editor. “So we decided to turn inwards and reflect on our collective relationship with food.”
Karin’s final task was one that only a fraction of special issues editors has ever been assigned: covering a presidential election. In 2016, Street’s Election Issue consisted largely of contributed content from Penn students in response to the victory of Donald Trump (W ’68) over Hillary Clinton. Street’s digital 2020 Election Issue, however, included content from not only Focus (within the purview of which most election reporting would fall) but also the Features, Ego, Arts, Music, and Film & TV sections as well.
Throughout the chaos wrought by the events of 2020, these future leaders wrote, interviewed, edited, led, and inspired the staff of an entire magazine to keep producing powerful and relevant coverage of the history happening before our eyes. But to Beatrice, Street has always been—and always will be—“an authority of taste” that recommends to the Penn community the newest TV shows to watch and the best matcha lattes on campus. She doesn’t plan on changing Street in that respect.
“Now, in a time where Penn is reckoning with a complicated past of gentrification and institutional racism, our readers are looking for new types of recommendations: what Penn leaders to hold accountable, what student orgs are activist, how to help West Philadelphians,” Beatrice says. “Street is the magazine that can do that.”