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ISSUE 117 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 10/3/2003

Arts journals circulate: Project promotes student expression

By Amy Aaron
Executive Editor

Friday, October 3, 2003

Fifteen journals, each with a different thematic focus, have begun circulating the St. Olaf campus as a project initiated by the Arts Outreach House. The journals are intended to provide students with a new and exciting forum for self-expression.

Each journal contains a brief set of rules regarding its use: keep it for 48 hours, pass it on to someone you do not know, feel free to react to others’ entries and do not deface another person’s work. Within these parameters and the topic of the particular journal, students are encouraged to express their thoughts in any manner they choose.

The journals cover a broad spectrum of subjects, including war and peace, religion and spirituality, and health and wellness. According to Anne Westmoreland ‘04, a member of the Arts Outreach House and a creator of the project, the themes were intended to be "overarching," but nonetheless "provocative."

One of the primary motives for creating the journals is to broaden the available modes of expression on campus. "We’re trying to engage people on different levels of discussion," Westmoreland said. The journals will provide students with a safe, possibly anonymous forum for putting forth ideas they may be weary of disclosing in more public situations.

Westmoreland added that students are often exposed to the ideas of only the more vocal groups on campus, creating a situation in which "the same few people [are] expressing the same few things." She hopes that the journals will capture a wider breadth of viewpoints.

Westmoreland also noted that she sees a discrepancy between what students reveal in and out of class, and she hopes the journals will mend that. "It seems like St. Olaf students get into really amazing discussions in class," she said. Yet outside the safety of a classroom, this deeper interaction often "falls to the wayside."

Westmoreland anticipates that the journals will be a way for students to transport such in-depth discussion to other arenas.

In hopes that the journals will successfully circulate throughout the student body, the members of the Arts Outreach House are anticipating their return at the end of the semester, or when they become full. They hope to incorporate the completed journals into an exhibit and donate them to the college archives.

The Arts Outreach House is also planning a second round of journals to be dispersed at the beginning of second semester. While they currently have no means of locating a particular journal, they are attempting to create a tracking system for the next round of journals.

Westmoreland noted that one of the house’s worries regarding the project is that the journals will remain "clumped" within a small number of social circles. However, she is hoping that students remain faithful to the instructions and pass the journals on to people they do not know, thus ensuring a diverse expression of student opinions.

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