Writing can help students cope with feelings of marginalization, isolation or discrimination, said AMS Social Issues Commissioner Daniella Dávila.
She said the Social Issues Commission (SIC) has five literary and visual art publications, CultureSHOCK!, HeadsUp!, the Queen’s Feminist Review (QFR), OutWrite and Able, which deal with racism, mental illness, feminism, LGBT issues and disabilities, respectively.
Dávila said these publications are a way for students to cope with issues of discrimination they encounter while at Queen’s.
“It’s essentially the main role of these publications to give the students the right to express everything they have inside when they wouldn’t necessarily be able to do so in the classroom, other publications, or even their circle of friends,” she said, adding that they can also help other students learn about the experiences of their peers.
“If someone were to pick up a copy of CultureSHOCK!, for example, and read the experiences of their peers … the racist environment they may not actually feel becomes much more prevalent.” She said these publications shouldn’t be viewed as a form of advocacy on behalf of these marginalized groups, but simply as a mode of expression.
“We have the Committee for Racial and Ethnic Discrimination [and other similar committees] that will do a lot more educational programming about de-stigmatizing these issues, but our publications are more of a form of expression specifically for those who need to cope with being marginalized”, she said.
Each of the five publications are published once a year and released during the winter term. Submissions are typically due by the end of fall term.
Students can voice their thoughts and experiences from a variety of different perspectives and can submit works of prose, poetry and even artwork.
Riley Grant, editor in chief of the Queen’s Feminist Review, emphasized the importance of creating a different form of dialogue not found in any other Queen’s publication.
“It’s an alternative form of expression a lot of students find more accommodating and more open, sort of like a safe space,” she said.
Sarah Hirji, deputy commissioner of the publications, said she’s planning a re-launch of previously distributed issues in various locations around campus like residences and libraries.
Having been featured in both HeadsUp! and CultureSHOCK!, Hirji said she knows how frightening it can be when submitting your own work.
“I actually used a pseudonym,” she said. “I wanted to voice my opinions without people knowing it was me, just so that I could gauge their reactions. I never told anybody about my work.”
Hirji said when she submitted to HeadsUp!, she was curious to see if others related to what she was feeling. With CultureSHOCK!, Hirji said she had the courage to get up at the open-mic event and read her piece.
She said writing helps prevent students from retreating into isolation. After publishing, she realized she hadn’t been the only one to experience these issues, and gained the confidence to pursue her beliefs whole-heartedly on campus.
“Your [beliefs] are not going to get shut down. As opposed to running around campus screaming your beliefs, this is a way that gives people an outlet without backlash,” she said. “It shows everyone else that you are not the only one, and that you can relate to everyone on what these issues are and how they affect our community.”
To submit or contact the SIC publication editors, please visit www.myams.org/society/sic/sic-publications
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