Students ‘Babble’ About Issues in Campus Magazine

In the latest issue of Babble, the editors take a look at activism at Bowdoin in the 1970s and today. Babble is a student magazine launched last year, filled with student writing and art, with each issue loosely gravitating around a single theme.

While examining activism sounds like a fairly weighty undertaking, one requiring sober analysis and reporting, the magazine adopts a tone that is quirky, irreverent and profane — yet still thoughtful.

Babble’s editors, Emily Talbot ’16 and Tomás Donatelli-Pitfield ’16, describe their publications as a “satire and editorial magazine filled with scrumptious textual and artistic goodies.” Talbot credits Babble with being a “breath of fresh air,” a magazine that “addresses serious issues with a sense of humor.” She said the magazine reflects the common tendency for people to lighten hard topics with humor.

The current Fall 2013 issue includes fiction, music reviews (satirical ones), poetry (non-satirical), essays, art, graphics and a Q&A with a member of Students for Justice in Palestine, which Pitfield calls the most politically active group at Bowdoin. There’s also a fair amount of college humor, such as juniors Talia Cowen and Nikki Morin’s look at the “Anatomy of a Bowdoin Hipster” (which includes Nantucket red “jorts,” or jean shorts) and odd texts purportedly sent by people under the influence.

Donatelli-Pitfield came up with the issue’s focus on activism. In his article, “Apathetic Activism,” Donatelli-Pitfield writes about how his generation approaches social change. “Our generation is the millennial generation, the me-me-me generation, known for being lazy, self-absorbed and entitled,” he explained in an interview. Talbot nodded, adding, “and for taking selfies.”

But Donatelli-Pitfield argues that young people today, while somewhat self-involved, are also interested in making the world a better place, and that they are searching for solutions. Many of them, however, don’t believe politics or politicians will help. Instead, Donatelli-Pitfield remarks on the rising interest of young people in working for NGOs, and the concurrent rise of NGOs around the world.

For her article, Talbot interviewed Linda Nelson ’83 about her time at Bowdoin. Nelson and her peers started the Women’s Resource Center and Gay Straight Alliance at Bowdoin, and pushed the College to create a more handicap-accessible campus.

Talbot writes that she was prompted to examine Nelson and her generation after observing that her peers seem to take their rights and entitlements for granted. “When our ‘Millennial’ generation takes these gains as givens we give up on the groundwork that got us to this great place (g for girl, am I right?),” she writes, bold letters included. Meanwhile, back in Nelson’s college days, female students had to deal with harassment and even a case of attempted arson attempted at the Women’s Resource Center.

Talbot’s piece was paired with a story, “…And Then Came Kate,” by Liz Snowdon ’17, which features Kate Stern, director of Bowdoin’s Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. Snowdon praises Stern for helping foster an inclusive culture on campus.

While Talbot and Donatelli-Pitfield are Babble’s current editors, they are not its founders. Luke Drabyn ’15, Edward Mahabir ’15, Kenneth Hsia ’15 and Justin Centeio ’15 started Babble, which is a wordplay on the notion that Bowdoin is a bubble, protecting all inside from the outside world. The founders’ intention for the publication, stated on the first page of issue one, was to “foster creativity, entertain its readership, and provide a candid representation of perspectives held within the Bowdoin community.”

In Talbot and Donatelli-Pitfield’s “ledditor,” or letter from the editor, they advertise the magazine’s offer of “plain old reading.” And if that’s not appreciated, they recommend the magazine be used as a back scratcher, fly swatter or friend smacker.

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