New student magazines discuss social issues

by Anna Buckley / Beacon Staff • March 14, 2013

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Freshman Spencer Shannon (left) and Emily Pfaff (right) helped create Under the Covers magazine.
Freshman Spencer Shannon (left) and Emily Pfaff (right) helped create Under the Covers magazine.

The inception of a new magazine on campus tends to occur when a group of students feels passionate about filling a neglected niche. Thanks to Isis Magazine and Under the Covers, feminism, social issues, and the college lifestyle are now getting more coverage at Emerson.

Isis Magazine, an online publication, launched its site mid-January. The creation of sophomore writing, literature, and publishing major Rachel Simon and freshmen writing, literature, and publishing majors Abbey Interrante and Mehak Anwar, Isis was founded as a platform for students to voice opinions, according to Simon. The site includes sections such as features, feminism, and sex + love.

“We wanted to make sure we could present a really honest, not sugarcoated view of social issues,” she said.

Simon said she believes that this emphasis on honesty is what sets Isis apart from other magazines on campus.

“We really want to encourage writers to not feel afraid to express their opinions, especially if their opinions that might not be welcome in a lot of other places,” she said. “And we’ve gotten a really good response to pieces exactly like that.”

Recently, Isis gained attention with a piece written by freshman writing, literature and publishing major Willie Burnley discussing racism, which received attention from President M. Lee Pelton and Simon said this was one of the articles that has been able to spread Isis’ goal — of encouraging people to feel comfortable sharing their ideas in the magazine — the furthest.

Simon said Isis now receives around 1,000 page views per day, and has a staff of 20 writers. Isis accepts freelance submissions and is currently publishing regularly throughout the week.

“We’re really, really happy that there seems to be such an enormous response from the student body, way more than we initially expected,” Simon said. “Everyone’s engaging in discussions that are really beneficial to us and that we’re happy to see.”

Founded a month later in mid-February, Under the Covers, another online magazine, was created by freshman writing, literature and publishing majors Spencer Shannon and Emily Pfaff and freshman visual and media arts major Marin Carroll. According to Shannon, the magazine focuses on acceptance, body positivity, and sexuality. Shannon clarified the focus is not on sexuality in terms of raciness, but rather of reality.

“When people come to college, all of the sudden they’re thrust into this microcosm of people, and they’re on their own and their parents aren’t there — they have to figure these things out for themselves,” Shannon said. “A lot of times all people need is an open forum where they can learn about things and talk about things without having to fear being looked down upon.”

Under the Covers uploads articles  daily, with a permanent staff of 13 students from multiple colleges, including Towson University, University of Delaware, and Madonna University. The site features sections including sex/dating, life/style, and culture.

Article topics range from an interview with junior visual and media arts major Alexander Freeman, who made a movie called The Last Taboo about disabled people having sex, to an opinion piece about a student’s experience telling his parents that his girlfriend was bisexual, and the generation gap between adults who are unaccepting of the LGBTQ community and their children who are.

“There’s just a whole array of things, but they all share that same thread of leading back to something to do with college issues, and sexuality, and body image, and confidence, and acceptance,” Shannon said. “They don’t all have to be about sex. I don’t want people to think it has to be all about overt, raunchy subjects.”

Shannon said the site now receives around 700 page views per day. Under the Covers is currently accepting submissions on its website, and will be holding its first official meeting March 14 in Piano Row room 118 at 8:00 p.m. 

“We’re still very much in the formative stages,” Shannon said. “We’ve only got a couple articles in each section, and we’re just starting to get a really solid plan, a really solid schedule, and a really solid staff.”

Freshman and reader of Under the Covers Helen Schultz said she is glad there is a new publication discussing hot topics on campus.

“I think ... it’s important to have a venue in which readers can talk about [subjects] in a way that’s constructive, and there’s this great interaction between the readers and the writers,” the writing, literature and publishing major said. “They can bring up a lot of really great topics that we don’t really get to discuss formally, so it’s a great way to discuss them online.”