I'm not exactly sure what the phrase "authorized by the Duke University Publications Board" means. Whether it implies granting permission, supporting with funding or just providing rack space in the cafeteria. But the Pub Board is doing fine by me for extending the circulation of a pair of free magazines that just showed up on campus and off, each carrying the above caveat in their staff box. See, not everyone is huddled over their dorm room computer designing blogs and websites! One of the magazines grew out of an assault last October, when a woman was attacked in a West Campus dormitory bathroom. The attacker was never apprehended even though the victim was 70 percent sure she knew his identity.
Four students wanted to react to the assault. "We felt like we really had to do something," junior Lauren Williams told the Duke Chronicle. "We came up with the idea of soliciting the general public for stories, and we had some ideas of putting them into a play or something along those lines."
Last month, they published 2,200 copies of Saturday Night: Untold Stories of Sexual Assault at Duke, a brave, honest, 32-page magazine filled with essays, letters, poetry and a resource guide. There have been editorials and letters to the editor in response to Saturday Night, and the magazine has become a lightening rod for dialogue around the issue of sexual assault on campus.
"We've also been doing presentations with the publication in classrooms," adds Williams. "Several students have criticized the fact that we don't do a sufficient job of addressing the issue of people being falsely accused of sexual assaults."
She notes, however, that the number of people falsely accused "pales in comparison to the number of people who are sexually assaulted."
Co-editors Williams, Allison Brim, Monica Lemmond and Ryan Kennedy want to make their magazine an annual publication and have broad support from the Women's Center, the B.N. Duke Scholars Program and the Women's Studies Department.
Volume one, Issue one of Thread: Collective Voices just hit the Duke campus, too. Thread proclaims a mission "dedicated to social justice issues relevant to campus, local, national and global communities. We aim to create an outlet for leftist voices on campus." It also adds a small print disclaimer: "This ain't the opinion of Dear Ol' Duke."
With poetry, fiction, first-person journalism and editorials, Thread's range is broad, addressing the environment, immigration, Palestine, AIDS, Durham politics, free trade, the water wars, even the Electoral College, all in a dozen pages. They're all heart, focused on making change.
The community calendar even includes a great mini-poster for "Buy Nothing Day." Thread has something for everyone and enough contact info to keep every activist, well, active!
Both Saturday Night and Thread acknowledge the support of friendly faculty members, always a healthy sign of democratic dialogue on campus. So thanks go out to them and the Publication Board for keeping the print conversations going.
Contributing Writer John Valentine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org