Lizzy Weal '17
This publication marks the second official BFP release since our return from the dead near the end of the 2016 spring term. We recently had our first meeting of the term, and the turnout was phenomenal. We have a number of projects and ideas in the works, as well as a lot of interesting content that we’re getting excited to tackle as the year progresses.
So, to clarify, as many of you have no idea who we are or what we do: We are the Bennington Free Press, an entirely student run and administrated newspaper which, in recent years, more or less disappeared. As of now, we have a dedicated team of core editors, a number of official staff writers and editors, as well as a number of one-, two-, or multiple- time student contributors who in the past (and we hope will continue to) submit an enormous variety of written works ranging from satirical work to opinion pieces to news articles. We release editions every two weeks, give or take a day or two, and we hope to be publishing actual physical copies of the BFP in the very near future, so keep an eye out for announcements of our triumphant return to the tangible.
We want everyone on campus who feels that they have something to contribute to submit content. To repeat: you do not need to be on the BFP staff to write for the BFP (though we would love you to join)! There are so many currents constantly buzzing around campus, and such a need to speak about them in a public venue, that we could never possibly get to every single topic students want to read about. We value your input and opinions regarding what is important to you as both a Bennington student and simply as an individual human being, and so we want to emphasize just how much we want outside submissions. There’s talk of introducing everything from a film and music review section, to an advice column, to a photography section, to a multiple installation piece concerning the college’s labor situation with faculty and staff. There are truly NO right or wrong submissions! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or submissions, or ask one of the staff members about the next meeting if you want to physically come and participate.
Despite this flexibility, the BFP’s resurrection is not a frivolous one. The moment we are presently living in feels exceptionally fraught, and this is directly reflected in the way that we, here and elsewhere, communicate. It is a different dialogue - in tone, in emotion, in content - than in the past, even the recent past, and it is unusual to go an entire day without overhearing at least one reference being made to one of a seemingly endless cascade of very serious, and often extremely upsetting, issues. Just to list off a tiny fraction of the currents that defined campus consciousness last year, I personally was constantly immersed in discussions about our culture of truly pandemic sexual violence and the administrative inaction that enables it; anonymity and the validity of Yik Yak; the ever increasingly crisis-level situation concerning housing and overcrowding, and how this is symptomatic of an accelerated institutional sprawl that has refused to reckon with its own present infrastructure; critical diversity; the sheer homogeneity of the curriculum in terms of classes about race, gender, and sexuality; the pervasive realities of attending Bennington that make it extremely unpleasant, and frequently impossible, to attend this school unless you are wealthy; and the school’s relationship with the town.
These are extremely pressing issues that deserve serious attention. They govern our lives here at Bennington, and represent some of the most daunting and fraught dynamics at work in the larger world outside of campus. They are issues that deserve to be researched deeply, articulated clearly, and presented in a rigorously accessible manner. Yet despite the fact that they are constantly being referenced in casual conversations and meetings, the tone is rarely one of optimism or even strategic realism, but commonly rather one of frustration, resignation, or a combination of the two. There is a need for a newspaper on this campus that not only disseminates information about goings on about Bennington and spotlights student work and input, but that also speaks to larger themes that are constantly discussed among the student body in a disjointed and inconsistent manner. A college campus as small and self-governed as ours cannot function properly in the absence of an accessible, central mouthpiece and advocate.
We are ostensibly constantly having conversations, and yet it feels that, despite the fact that the same words and platitudes are always being circulated and “spaces” constantly being “created” in order to “generate a community dialogue”, really nothing has been said. By reviving the BFP, we are committed to changing this trend by acting in whatever capacity is necessary to host these conversations, and ensure they have a fighting chance of effecting change.
We’re super excited to be back. Send us an e-mail.