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  • Sage Lamott, Staff Writer

Student-driven literary zine encourages exploration of identity and thought



Graphic by Isis Coyle

A developing student publication on campus is embarking on a quest for intellectual freedom and expression. While it is so new that it still lacks a working name, the literary zine spans topics including philosophy, politics, psychology and anything of student interest. 


The president of the zine James Groman (‘26) has a deep dedication to the pursuit of knowledge. Groman emphasizes the overwhelming supply of creative writers on campus and the variety of ideologies, noting that, “If people want to say something, they should say it. There’s a lot of untapped potential here.” 


Groman decided to begin his zine when he kept noticing that his essays for classes took on a new light outside of the classroom. “I would build off of the original prompt," Groman said, "and adapt these new ideas that were inspired by that concept.” He would find academic interest beyond what was asked of him, a way to view the world at large instead of just on the pages of his homework. By creating a space on campus for students to deepen the value of their education, Groman encourages a new way of thinking about classroom learning.


The zine aims to help students get published within the realm of their own interests. Some interests inevitably push boundaries. “Sometimes we have to talk about things that are not comfortable," Groman said. "People have important things to say about things that can be uncomfortable.” Including fact-driven opinion pieces and encouraging peers to engage with similar material continues to foster personal and positive connections within Willamette’s staff and students. The value of communicating what media and ideologies students are passionate about cannot be emphasized enough, he added. 


Groman also discussed revelations the zine gave him about college, “Before you come to college you kind of have this one way of thinking, you reproduce knowledge. You study and regurgitate what you studied onto tests. College really changes that, especially at Willamette.” With the ever-changing environment, students must take pride in their knowledge and their skills, an emotion that the articles in the zine reflect.


Taking ownership of your identity is another important element necessary for Groman's idea of the publication's success. “Identity and perspective are both so important, people have so many stories that often go overlooked,” he said. Though Willamette has various opportunities for artistic expression, the platform provides a welcome addition. “We want unique experiences, we want people to talk about their unique experiences, to talk about what others can’t.” The zine allows students to elaborate on their learning and explore the topics they cover in class that appeal to them, as well as being a space for unbridled creative expression. Groman mentioned the possibility of artistic editions of the zine, including student art and analysis. “We’ll take what you give us,” he said. 


A community's success relies on its members' success and aspirations. A student-driven publication based on personal expression and interests provides a new space for Willamette students to excel beyond their college education, deepen their intellectual pursuits, and speak their minds.


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