Student publications hit campus, will explore politics and sexuality

By Juliana Wu

Politics and penises will be the subjects of two new student publications slated to hit campus this spring. While the two publications—The Chicago Quill and Vita Excolatur—are both the brainchildren of University undergraduates seeking to provide new outlets for creative commentary, they are focused on completely different subjects.

The Chicago Quill will offer political, cultural, and artistic commentary while Vita Excolatur will focus on sexuality and erotica.

Last spring, Zachary LeVasseur, now executive director of the Quill, and Aaron Berlin, now publisher, began brainstorming about creating an unbiased, open forum for student opinions. The result of their efforts is a unique, non-partisan, online publication for political commentary and satire, as well as works of cultural criticism and artistic expression. Articles and pieces fall under four sections: Politics, Arts, Culture, and Inkblots. Inkblots features short commentaries that are refreshed daily to keep readers interested and returning regularly to the website.

When asked how their publication would be unique on a campus with plenty of expressive outlets for students, LeVasseur said the Quill is more open than other student publications. Citing the conservative-leaning student publication The Criterion and the Viewpoints section of the Maroon, LeVasseur said the Quill is willing to accept “articles from anyone, from any viewpoint.”

Berlin said the articles will be longer than those published in the Maroon’s Viewpoints section. “Not only will the longer length of the articles give students a chance to tell people what they think, but it will give them more of an opportunity to say why,” said Berlin, a third-year political science concentrator in the College.

Revolving around an entirely different theme than that of the Quill, Vita Excolatur is an erotica magazine that will premier this quarter. Ideas for the magazine began with the editor-in-chief, who wishes to be known as Stephen T., and a group of friends informally talking about sexuality and erotica. Eventually, the group decided that the University needed an erotica magazine of its own.

The creators of the magazine say it is important for students to recognize and address aesthetic and sensual value. One of the editors, requesting anonymity, said that students on campus are often too critical of their classmates’ physical looks, and this negatively affects the self-image of students.

“Basicially we have two goals: to remind students at the U of C that we are, in fact, sexual and attractive people, and [to remind students] that sex and sexuality are not bad things and should in no way be taboo,” said Stephen T., a third-year concentrating in philosophy and biology.

The magazine is looking for a variety of works of literature, photography, poetry, drawings, and writings. They want everything from philosophically-inspired sex articles to essays on the cultural impact on sex, from humorous, candid photos to steamy, behind-the-scenes encounters.

While the publication may seem controversial, the editors have yet to run into any problems with the University about running the magazine. In fact, they say, interactions with administrative officials have been positive thus far.

Vita Escolatur will run quarterly and is scheduled to premiere during fifth week. The Quill, meanwhile, will be the University’s first student publication to be entirely online.

The creators of The Chicago Quill chose to refrain from making the periodical in print partly because of price issues. Avoiding high start-up costs for print publications, the periodical’s only current expense is for advertising flyers, which have been paid out-of-pocket. The publication is hoping to eventually earn money through advertisements, grants, and donations.

New articles will be added to the website three times a week: One each Monday and Wednesday, and two on Fridays. The first edition will appear today at with five articles written by the original production staff, and will include pieces by LeVasseur and Berlin. The periodical is looking forward to establishing a steady staff of contributors. Berlin has received over 30 responses to an advertising e-mail sent out this past Monday asking for contributors.