February 21, 2012
Students ‘Speak’ with sharp tongue
SUNY Cortland has a magazine, published each semester, that lets students express their opinions and tell their stories on anything political, cultural or social.
But names are not printed with the pieces, which are candid and mostly first-person, providing a glimpse into college culture for outsiders and an affirmation, its editors say, for undergraduates themselves.
In colorful, varied designs provided by graphics arts students, anything on young people’s minds is there: drinking, sex, sports, growing up, classes, professors.
Now in its fifth year, “Speak” is guided by a team of editors who put out the call for writing, then edit pieces and make sure they will not lead to lawsuits, then arrange them in sections.
They list the authors in front without indicating in the table of contents who wrote which piece.
“That’s our big selling point: you can say whatever you have on your mind,” said Kaitlin Doyle, a junior who is co-editor.
Production takes about one month, with Cayuga Press printing 2,000 copies. The staff then presents the magazine for free at a table in Corey Union and by setting out copies in public places such as Memorial Library’s Bookmark coffee shop and foyers of classroom buildings.
“It provides a good break from studying,” Doyle said. “We give away pens, T-shirts, candy.”
The spring issue, which is No. 9, should be ready in late April. The magazine is funded by the Student Government Association.
Senior Katie Persichilli and Doyle, the editors-in-chief, and Carolyn Bernardo, who is taking over as an editor-in-chief with Doyle for next fall, smiled when asked if their magazine allows them an outlet without censorship between high school and life after college.
“It’s so fun, and I’ve learned more from this than any class,” said Persichilli, who is seeking work in Manhattan’s publishing industry.
The fall issue has a sports section where a student talks about despising the New York Jets football team, another about privileges given to athletes, another about sports surgery and a satire about lacrosse players as shallow, egotistical jocks titled “Laxbro.”
“The lacrosse players thought that one was funny,” Persichilli said. “They said, ‘um, it’s kind of true.’ ”
Another section has a more confessional theme. “Dear Me, From Me ... To the Younger, Much Chubbier, Less Confident, and Lisping, Me” has a student talking to her high school self. A section called “Post Secrets” imitates a text message inbox, with such lines as “I stare at neighbors through their open windows while they get dressed” and “I charge my housemates extra for the electric bill so I can afford to drink more.”
Postsecret.com is an online confessional blog, also anonymous.
Still other pieces are analytical. “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” looks at how students get by on little sleep. “Not Having a Choice” criticizes SUNY Cortland for its goal of going tobacco-free in 2013.
“Some people love it,” said Doyle, a professional writing major from Woodmere, Long Island. She said the editors receive emails and comments constantly, some critical.
“Some articles rub people the wrong way, and we tell them to write their own articles,” said Persichilli, a communication studies major and music minor from Wheatley Heights, Long Island.
“Speak” grew out of the communications studies department, which created ways for students to express themselves in writing and graphic design. The founders were 2010 graduates Kristin Beyer and Lauren Zuber.
Persichilli joined the staff as a sophomore, served one semester as sports editor and was chosen as an editor-in-chief. Doyle started as a copy editor. Bernardo, a junior communication studies major from Endicott, was an editor.
Persichilli said the staff would like to add more men and have more pieces written by men.
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