Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 4
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Student publication seeks out alternative voices

A hefty historic association, difficult spelling and similarity to the word “succession” make “secession” a rich word: so it’s understandable that Whitman’s newest literary publication would use the word as its title.

Juniors Carly Spiering, Bryan Sonderman and Iris Alden founded “The Secession” to provide an alternative venue for student’s creative work.  

According to Sonderman, The Secession has recently been criticized for its supposed lack of purpose.

“We don’t necessarily have a very defined purpose, but that’s kind of a purpose in itself,” he said.

The publication’s first issue is 16 pages long and includes a wide variety of creative pieces. One piece by senior Caitlin Tortorici, entitled “Things not to do to your vagina,” presents a fairly graphic description of unfortunate vaginal situations. “Animal Discoveries #2”, a cartoon by Alan Farts, includes a drawing of genitalia.  

Not all of the pieces published in the first issue have to do with the human body, though.

Others act as music reviews, like Marshall Baker and Joe Gustav’s piece, “Blappin.'” Baker and Gustav wrote the piece as a discussion between them of “the MOST GANGSTA gangsta rappers.”

The Secession was created to serve as another creative outlet for Whitman students. It’s based on the “The Consumer,” a pullout section of The Pioneer that focused on pop-culture. Sonderman became the editor of “The Consumer” in spring 2008 after renaming and modifying its ancestor, a music supplement called “The Ear.”  

Alden, Sonderman and Spiering contributed regularly to “The Ear” and then to “The Consumer.” During the fall 2008 semester, all three were abroad and “The Consumer” wasn’t published.

At the beginning of the spring 2009 semester, Alden and Spiering attended a few meetings of The Pioneer to see about restarting “The Consumer.”  

Instead of restarting the pullout section, Sonderman, Alden and Spiering decided to create their own independent publication.

After all, said Sonderman, The Pioneer already has an Arts & Entertainment section.

The magazine’s title, The Secession, isn’t quite as dramatic as it may seem: “The Consumer” seceded from The Pioneer and now exists as a separate publication.

“It’s really not as antagonistic of a title as people have thought. It’s not so much about seceding from the Whitman media community: we very much want to be a part of that community,” said Sonderman.

The reasons for their secession have to do mostly with the constraints of the newspaper form.

 “The Pio does have these very specific standards and that’s who they sort of have to be in order to achieve the product that they want,” said Alden.

Alden certainly has experience with “The Pioneer”; she worked as an illustrator in fall 2007, wrote and illustrated for “The Consumer” in spring 2008 and currently works as a reporter for the paper.

As editor of “The Consumer,” Sonderman was free to determine the layout and content of the supplement.

Nonetheless, he said, “I still didn’t feel the sense that I was putting out an independent publication the way I wanted to.”

Now Sonderman cherishes the open format of The Secession and the wide variety of pieces that it allows.  

First year Hannah Johnson wrote about “cool animals” in the first issue, printed on March 9. She loves writing about science and the freedom inherent to “The Secession” allows her to pursue this interest.

“Submitting whatever you want to submit means that you can write about things that you feel genuinely interested in and passionate about, which I think makes for the best writing,” said Johnson.

Junior Leah Koerper was “surprised and impressed” by the first issue of The Secession.  

“I guess I really liked its irreverence,” she said. “That delighted me. I want more of that. I liked that a lot of it was not politically correct and people were just saying what they wanted about anything.”

However, junior Anastasia Zamkinos’ letter to the editor, printed in the March 12 edition of The Pioneer, criticizes The Secession for not clearly defining its mission in the first issue. Without a clear purpose, she argues, “The Secession leaves itself vulnerable to some major criticisms.”

Zamkinos also writes, “…many of the pieces in ‘The Sec’ 1.1 could have had a sound home in the other three publications that exist here.”

Although Koerper agrees that some of the articles would fit in the other three campus publications (namely blue moon, quarterlife and The Pioneer), she believes that The Secession offers a unique space for creative expression.  

“I really like The Secession because I feel like anyone who makes anything that they think should be published can get published,” she said.

The Secession is printed twice monthly and is available at the Reid Campus Center, the Penrose Library and other central campus locations.

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