Lit mag at Loyola Chicago retains funding despite criticism of sex issue

ILLINOIS — The Loyola University of Chicago student government decided not to adopt legislation at yesterday’s meeting that would remove the editor in chief and take away funding from a student magazine whose front cover featured art of a woman scantily clad and wearing underwear with the word ”slut” on it.

”We couldn’t have asked for it to go better,” said Bre Kidman, editor in chief of the Diminuendo, the student literary magazine. ”They were initially calling for my resignation and by the end they were thinking about giving us more money.”

Kidman said the staff decided to devote the first three issues of the year to sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.

Less than 24 hours after distributing the 1,200 copies of the sex issue, which came out on Oct. 22, someone collected copies of the magazine from around the campus, said Jane Neufeld, the dean of students.

Neufeld said she has no idea who collected the issues, but she found a stack in the lobby outside of her office that she took inside. After the issues were collected, students were able to come directly to Neufeld’s office or to the Diminuendo’s office to ask for a copy if they wanted one, she said.

”People are welcome to pick them up,” she said.

At the meeting of the student government for the private, Jesuit Catholic university, the students considered if the staff broke the student code, which states in part that students’ words, actions and commitments should be characterized by respect, caring, responsibility and honesty.

”At first they said we broke it, but the new legislation said we did offend some people and that was wrong, but we raised the level of discourse at Loyola,” Kidman said.

Neufeld agreed that the issues started an open dialogue among the students.

”A good by-product out of these situations is that there can be a good discussions that follow,” she said. ”We can learn from it and take those lessons and move forward.”

While Neufeld said some of the visual images in the magazine were offensive, she has no intention of shutting down the magazine.

”I was disappointed at the extent at which they went to depict women. The front and back cover are both equally as offensive to me,” she said.

On the front cover, there is a drawing of a woman nearly naked, wearing electrical tape over her nipples and panties with the word ”slut” on them. The back cover is a woman in a dominatrix outfit that exposes her naked backside.

The creator of the images, Ashley Davis, said she was not expecting this reaction when she submitted her drawings. She said claims that the artwork objectified women were ”totally ridiculous” and that people overreacted.

”The subject was sex,” she said. ”I drew what I thought was aesthetically pleasing.”

Kidman said she did not think the images had anything wrong with them.

”People were saying the images were misogynistic,” she said. ”In my mind, I don’t see it.”

A lot of the objections were to the use of the word ”slut,” Davis said, which people misinterpreted. To her, she said it refers to a woman who is accepting of her sexuality.

Neufeld said the organization is looking for a new adviser who has journalism experience and can provide the students with expert advice. In the past, the magazine did not have a faculty adviser, but Neufeld signed off on any budget requests the group had.

Kidman said the next issue of the magazine will focus on drugs. She said she has no intention of toning down the artwork inside the magazine, but she is willing to compromise with a request from the student government to tone down the front cover.

”People are saying they have no choice in looking at the cover. Hopefully it will be enough to appease them, but it’s not really a compromise I’m a fan of,” she said. ”I wouldn’t hesitate to run something controversial again.”