Sequel an important outlet for students


by Grant Rodgers

Times are changing for print media everywhere, but for Sequel, Simpson College’s student-led literary magazine, times are good.

Last year was a year of innovation for the 66-year-old magazine, which is distributed throughout campus in April. Led by Editor-in-Chief Travis Williams, Sequel got a newer, more professional look and began printing on recyclable, environmentally friendly paper.

“As far as we’ve heard, we’ve been given a lot of compliments,” Williams said. “We’re collecting the voice of Simpson College.”

The move to printing on sustainable paper was a proud accomplishment for Williams, and the group hopes to continue printing Sequel using the paper. However, with a freeze to the college’s student activities fund causing Student Government Association – which funds Sequel and other student groups – to tighten its belt, there may be a hitch in the plan.

At its Sept. 26 meeting, SGA voted to fund Sequel $4,000, around $2,000 less than the group originally asked for. The decrease in funding could be the difference between using the recycled paper, which is more expensive, and having to return to the less-sustainable alternative.

If printed on the recycled paper, circulation would have to drop to around 350 copies, as opposed to the 550 copies printed last year, said David Wolf, Sequel adviser and assistant professor of English. The group had already cut circulation, so it’s a tough trade-off to weigh, he said.

“I think the organization will revisit whether we’re even going to go environmentally friendly,” Wolfe said. “I think circulation is important.”

Another frustrating aspect, Williams said, is that he began looking at using the paper last year after it was recommended to the group by an SGA member when they requested funding.

It’s understandable that SGA is forced to make difficult budget decisions this year. But when a group has worked hard to improve over the year and follow SGA direction, it’s unfortunate to see funding slashed and its efforts at sustainability curtailed.

The decision to lower the budget comes amid a greater conversation amongst SGA representatives about its role in funding Sequel and other academically focused student groups. A main SGA concern has been that copies of the magazine aren’t picked up or widely read by students.

It’s a valid concern, but one that overlooks many benefits of the magazine. Last year, Sequel featured around 50 entries from students, faculty and staff.

Students in majors from English to biology submitted their work to Sequel. Antonio Reyes, who is co-editor this year, says it best:

“It’s not an English department thing, it’s a Simpson college organization,” he told SGA at the meeting.

Sequel is a rich part of Simpson tradition and an important outlet for a student body that values liberal arts. It’s positive to see SGA’s support for the group, which receives no funding from the English department. But discussions on the topic occur annually.

Though it can be tough to judge the full value, it’s important that students and student body representatives take part in and stand up for the literature and art that Sequel brings to campus.