Reading Rights

Magdalena Waz

The consensus in one of my classes the other day seemed to be that we are artists in times of almost absolute freedom. And that is at least half true. If one of us says, “I want to be an actor,” most everyone will reply, “Good. Do that.” While people still tend to tell me it is all right to dream of being a writer, I know that this is not necessarily true.
The crumbling of magazines – most recently Paste – the move toward a more visual representation of news on websites like, and rise of the iPad are all proving that we do write in hostile times. At the risk of sounding terribly melodramatic, the written word is getting swallowed up by everything else around it.
The desire to move away from printed word and into a medium that is more current and more satisfying became evident on the Lawrence campus not long ago when Tropos, Lawrence’s long-running literary magazine, was denied funding for the 2010-2011 school year. The reason cited for this oversight was a lack of communication between the previous leadership and the previous-previous leadership.
I know, it sounds confusing. In essence, Tropos this year is being punished for the fact that the editors who were in charge of the 2009 printing maybe potentially may have not communicated with the 2010 editors. I don’t know if that was the case. I was not involved enough with the organization to have been at the budget hearing during my sophomore year.
But let us assume that communication was indeed the issue at hand. I can attest to the fact that both I, the current editor-in-chief, and Alicia Bones, the previous editor-
in-chief, attended the required meeting with the finance committee. Before this meeting, I had been briefed about general operations, and having been a member of the Tropos review board, I was aware of procedures and timelines that would ensure a successful printing.
I know, for instance, that 300 copies of the Spring 2010 edition containing 80 pages, eight of which were in color, cost $2,690 to print. My possession of this information indicates at the very least a desire to continue being very actively involved. I was not asked what my plans were for the following year, nor was I given any indication that there was concern over Alicia’s ability to communicate important information to me.
I know that LUCC’s Finance Committee was not aware of these things – they did not ask, but the actions taken to at least impede the publication of a journal that since my time here has been published without fail and on time to distribute to the outgoing seniors indicate two problems.
The first, perhaps more pressing, is that LUCC needs to start trusting that incoming student leadership will be interested in improving on what has been accomplished by previous leaders. While there was proof that I was interested in and ready to take over leadership of Tropos, there was no proof to the contrary.
The decision to not grant Tropos money appears at least on a superficial level to be based on the assumption that regardless of their demonstrated responsibility, all students will repeat the mistakes of their predecessors. In an environment where leadership changes hands often because of the very nature of college, these assumptions are not beneficial to any student group. And any concerns should be addressed to students responsible the following year before the budget is finalized.
The second problem is, of course, that we do not value reading, and therefore, we do not value Tropos. In some ways, it is a sort of dying breed, the college literary journal. Its primary audience is college students, but these students – myself included sometimes – are generally more interested in supporting their favorite TV shows than supporting their classmate writers.
The interest, though, in last spring’s Tropos was overwhelming due mainly to how wonderfully it turned out. It was a pleasing peach color, the cover was uncluttered and the pages were weighty. I loved handing out copies or seeing them disappear off tables in the campus center. Almost all of our copies were distributed.
The meeting to prepare a plan – and an allocation request – for this coming school year will take place on Saturday, Sept 25 at 5 p.m. on the fourth floor of the campus center. Anyone interested in submitting, organizing, reviewing, advertising and anything else related to the publication is welcome to attend. We are plowing ahead, hoping that our determination is proof enough that writing and reading are still worthwhile ventures.