Student-run publications dig into truth, challenge norms

JACOB WATSON
LIBERAL COLUMNIST

Franciscan University is home to many publications that allow for freedom of speech and thought among the student body. Two of these, the Gadfly and the Gauntlet, often serve as conversation starters by spreading information, contributing ideas and sparking discussion.

The Gadfly is one of the major campus publications. The goal of the Gadfly, Ana Abbamonte — senior editor-in-chief of the Gadfly — said, is to provide an “outlet for people to talk about things that would stir the pot.”

The Gadfly is a mysterious publication, having been in and out of publication throughout Franciscan University’s history. Abbamonte said that the full history was not passed down to her. “I don’t know how it started,” she said. 

However, the publication has seen many good days. Abbamonte commented about a time when people anxiously waited for the publication of each issue of the Gadfly; there are even some remnants of it on the Internet. The earliest accessible reference to the Gadfly is a notification on its old website from 2007 that it had — at that time — just returned from hiatus.

This opportunity to stir the pot is used to present controversial subjects on campus instead of causing hurt or controversy. Acting more like a magazine or an academic journal than a newspaper or single-page publication, the Gadfly publishes at least once every semester and seeks to present a high-quality print for students.

Mainly tackling social and cultural issues, the Gadfly has featured articles on the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, female ordination, the role of men in society and even Harry Potter. Still, even with these delicate issues, the Gadfly seeks to only publish good arguments worth reading.

Abbamonte emphasized that these conversations, and the critical thinking necessary for them, are essential in the world after Franciscan. “We want people to have well-reasoned opinions about things the world does not want people having opinions about,” she said.

So far, the Gadfly seems to have lived up to that purpose and is fairly popular. Abbamonte said that the copies of the Gadfly — usually distributed in different places in the academic buildings — “are usually gone within 48 hours” of publication.

The Gadfly is run by Abbamonte; Clement Harrold, sophomore assistant editor; Edyta Wolk, sophomore copy editor and Maddie Raffa, junior media coordinator.

Anyone who wants a copy of the Gadfly but has not been able to get a print copy or who wants to write for the Gadfly can email franciscangadfly@gmail.com to receive a digital copy or to submit an idea.

The other major student publication on campus is the Gauntlet. Unlike the Gadfly with its mysterious, ancient origins, the Gauntlet was started in September 2018 and is only in its second volume. The Gauntlet, a project of the Veritas Society, likewise seeks to be a voice on campus.

Sophomore David Willey, founder, explained that the Gauntlet focuses on campus-specific issues, “contributing to campus conversation.” Willey said that he wanted to create a publication to complement the other publications on campus.

While the Troubadour focuses on news and the Gadfly on cultural issues, Willey explained, the Gauntlet was made with the purpose of discussing uniquely Franciscan University of Steubenville topics. Emphasizing the importance of university life, Willey said he thought, “I love Franciscan so much … how could we make it better?”

According to the Gauntlet’s Facebook page, it seeks to discuss Franciscan life, Christian life and students’ vocation.

Recently, the Gauntlet has published controversial yet thought-provoking and conversation-starting articles. For example, in a recent issue, Willey wrote the front-page article on the problem of “Catholic populism.” Whenever two or more picked up the issue in the hallways, there was a discussion.

It is run by David Willey, sophomore editor-in-chief; Lydia Bates, sophomore assistant editor; Maria Lencki, sophomore distribution manager; Robert Bernard, senior design manager; Chuck Adams, sophomore lead columnist; Edyta Wolk, sophomore lead columnist; Patrick O’Brien, senior back columnist; and Michael O’Connor, senior back columnist.

Anyone who wishes to get published in the Gauntlet can email thegauntletword@gmail.com or contact the Gauntlet through Facebook at the.gauntlet.franciscan. To get dorm delivery, text (740) 219-1943.

The Gauntlet is excited to launch its own WordPress soon, featuring its regular content online, including slightly longer articles and response articles.

Having both the Gadfly and the Gauntlet, the Franciscan University campus is able to have discussions of various topics. Through the work of the men and women who make these publications happen, each person and each discussion can have its place.

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