Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Campus publications to spark discussion about LGBTQ issues, sexual assault

Whitman will soon see two new publications on campus that give students the opportunity to explore complicated issues.

Seniors Ellie Newell, Mehera Nori and Alice Minor, who are all members of Feminists Advocating Change and Empowerment, have conceived a zine, titled “Break Ground,” which will focus on issues of sexual assault. Whitman students of all genders and orientations are encouraged to submit, and submissions can range from thoughts to rants to visual artworks.

“Break Ground” is being funded by the ASWC Travel and Student Development Fund.

Nori said that she, Newell and Minor wanted to create a place for students to take part in the discussion about sexual assault that had already been generated on campus.

“We weren’t sure of what we wanted to put together, but we wanted to create a space where people could talk about their personal experiences so that people could see that sexual assault is not a random and isolated topic that doesn’t affect this community,” she said.

Nori also wants to provide a community of support for survivors of sexual assault.

“Some will have personal experiences and not consider them harassment or assault because they didn’t think it counted. What would have to happen before it counts? Many don’t know what to do to make their experiences valid. We want to break that assumption,” she said.

Newell described how the title illustrated these goals.

“We chose the name ‘Break Ground’ because we want this zine to do that––to break the ground so that we can start to build a conversation about how we, the Whitman Community, think about sexual violence and gender inequality. We were attracted to the powerful verb ‘break’––breaking the silence, taking an empowered stand against the acts of violence committed against so many people here at Whitman,” she said.

Minor’s personal experiences with assault were part of what drew her to the concept of a publication, but she emphasizes a need to hear stories from a variety of people.

“I have a personal motive, but this zine is a place for all comers to tell their stories . . . There isn’t one political message. We need to hear a diversity of experiences.”

Though the publication originated from the personal stake these women had in this issue and in the Whitman community and not from the club itself, it is possible that students will continue to publish a similar zine in years to come.

“Hopefully it has momentum for younger generations of students. I would love that,” said Minor.

Minor, Nori and Newell plan to publish the new zine on April 19, which will coincide with Take Back the Night.

Similarly, junior Madelyn Peterson was inspired by queer publications she had read online over winter break and wanted to create a publication that would spark discussion about GLBTQ issues.

“I was excited by how they challenged my ideas of gender and sexuality and I wanted to try a similar publication.”

The title of the new zine, “Queering,” reflects her goals.

“Many of us grew up with the term ‘queer’ as a negative term, like I did, so it might put them off, but when I got here I met more people who identified as queer. The word is being reclaimed as a more inclusive term. I hope to explore the idea of queer and queering and to break down the boundaries we’ve grown up with,” said Peterson.

“Queering” finished accepting submissions at midnight on Saturday, March 31. A “coming out party” was held for the publication on Wednesday, April 11 in the Grover Alston Center.

First-year Evan Griffis, who became involved with the production of “Queering” after having received Peterson’s emails on the GLBTQ listserv, is excited to see how the publication will affect campus culture.

“I’d like to see it push dialogue about issues. People here are so comfortable ‘tolerating’ but they aren’t always engaged with issues not relevant to them. I hope it opens the dialogue wider.”

Griffis is optimistic that “Queering” has a future on campus.

“In the first issue’s submissions, various topics keep developing, and after they read the first issue, there will be even more ideas. I really think it will be a self-sustaining publication on campus.”

GLBTQ has offered to fund the first publication, and Griffis hopes to seek funding from ASWC for future publications.

Peterson looks forward to the future of the magazine.

“I hope this becomes a campus project. I don’t want it to be just mine.”

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