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CSA looks to create publication guidelines

<ay, Jan. 22, CSA met with the editors of various campus publications it funds to talk over new guidelines and suggestions for print journals.

“Things are getting more and more expensive, and we want to make sure we use our budget more efficiently, and before we made any decisions on how to proceed, we wanted to make sure all voices were accounted for,” said Abha Laddha ’17, Vice-President of CSA and Chair of the Budget and Governance committees. Laddha declined to comment on what the budget for campus publications is currently.

Laddha stressed, however, that the new changes would not mean less funding for publications, but rather more communication with CSA to make sure funds are being used in the best way possible.

“It’s not that we’re trying to reduce our funding for publications at all, but it’s more like: ‘How can we fund you most efficiently?’,” Laddha said.

According to Laddha, possible new initiatives include cutting down on waste of old publications copies, instituting a subscription model to more accurately gauge interest, establishing an increased online presence, creating a review process to make sure publications are efficiently using their funds, archiving more publications online, tabling in Sayles to receive feedback and creating more codified guidelines for starting new publications. The final changes that will be instituted, however, remain unclear.

Laddha said of the Sunday meeting that “it was a very productive conversation, but nothing has been decided yet.”

Another idea that had been talked about surrounding campus publications before the Sunday meeting was transitioning print journals completely online and forgoing the traditional print format in order to both save money and produce less environmental impact. The idea was scrapped, however, after resistance from the leaders of some publications.

“The physical, produced item is a vital part of literary journals, is a part of literary journal tradition, and I think is indispensable when it comes to thinking about the goals of the literary journal,” said Eli Sorich ’17, editor-in-chief of the literary arts journal The Manuscript. “The feel of a book, the presence of the book, is something entirely different than reading something online.”

Leah Meltzer ’18, editor of Infemous, an intersectional feminist zine, agreed that the physical publication was important.

“Pretty much everyone was in agreement that nobody really wants to switch to only digital because a lot of the editors, especially those of us who have creative submissions, we think that people really like having an actual physical copy of the publication to hold and look at,” said Meltzer.

On Sunday, Laddha also emphasized that a fully online transition is not the goal of the CSA’s new initiatives.

“I think we got a pretty big push back on all online, so we don’t want that to happen at all,” Laddha said, clarifying also that the current goal is to “encourage publications to also have an online presence, along with regular publications.”

Sorich, however, said that, at least during his tenure as The Manuscript editor-in-chief, he would not pursue any online presence because the time it would take to maintain a good website would not be worth the benefits.

“A literary journal fills a certain niche on campus, and to me that niche is a physical one,” Sorich said. “It’s super difficult to build a website that is appealing in the right way, particularly for a literature and arts magazine. It just doesn’t seem like CSA has taken into consideration the fact that adding an online segment to a club like the Manuscript is basically the workload of a whole additional club,” he said.

Meltzer, on the other hand, said that Infemous has already adopted a subscription model in which people request copies of the zine through a Google form, and the publication prints as many copies as are asked for.
“That’s what we did with our very first issue of Infemous, so I said to Abha that it would be really easy for us to re-implement that model, and we can cut back that way,” Meltzer said.

Meltzer also voiced support for the CSA project as a whole.

“CSA knows all the particulars, so I trust them if they say that they need to cut back right now,” Meltzer said. “Really, they can’t know right away how to cut back on costs so what they really need is for us to try new things and see what works in terms of what allows us to cut back on spending.”

Sorich, too, said he would be open to a subscription model, though he also expressed concerns over how well that model would work after The Manuscript’s budget was cut this year, a move unrelated to the current new initiatives.

“I share aspects of the CSA’s concern in that one of my primary goals is to get journals into the hands of as many Carls as possible, and subscriptions is certainly one way to verify that  is happening,” Sorich said.

“But something that we’re grappling with at the Manuscript now is the fact that we only have the budget to print 150 copies per term, as a result of last year’s CSA budget cuts, and it’s difficult to reach enough people to generate campus interest with that low a number. So if a subscription based system helps eliminate ambiguity in the CSA’s understanding of when and when not to cut budgets, then I’m for it.”

Sorich also said he supported other new CSA initiatives, such as creating a CSA subcommittee focused on campus publications and more publication dispensary places.

Disclaimer: The writer of this piece is part of The Manuscript editorial staff and writes for Infemous

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