Counterpoint, the monthly magazine which aimed to chronicle campus life at MIT and Wellesley College, will resume publication in September as a Wellesley-only publication, the publication’s co-editor announced in May’s issue.
“We will be temporarily abandoning the partnership that was forged 16 years ago between our two institutions of higher interest due to dwindling MIT interest and participation and, more pressingly, because our long-serving MIT co-Editor-in-Chief is graduating, with no one standing to take his place,” wrote co-editor Kristina Costa, a Wellesley junior, in the May column “One is the Loneliest Number.”
In the past few years, Counterpoint has had money troubles. A December 2006 column, “Welcome to our Nightmare: Why Counterpoint Has Been MIA,” also written by Costa, outlined difficulties including unpaid invoices and a failure to ask Wellesley’s student group funding board for money.
To cut costs, recent issues of Counterpoint switched from a glossy color cover to a black-and-white cover on thinner paper stock.
The organization also faces issues remaining an MIT student group because it has few MIT members. Any MIT student group must, under Association of Student Activities rules, require in its constitution at least five members from MIT. Half of the group’s membership must also come from MIT. But only a few of Counterpoint’s staff were MIT students in 2008, and only a handful of the contributions in 2008 issues of Counterpoint were attributed to MIT students.
In February 2004, the ASA revoked Counterpoint’s status as an MIT student group because of MIT/Wellesley balance issues: 14 staff members were MIT students and 28 were Wellesley students. The organization was later re-recognized in April after the group changed its constitution to state that it had separate MIT and Wellesley chapters, The Tech reported.
The magazine, which is currently distributed at MIT and Wellesley, will only be distributed in Wellesley starting with its September issue, Costa wrote in the column. Its Web site, currently accessible at http://counterpoint.mit.edu/, will move to a Wellesley server, Costa wrote, although it is not yet clear where. Editors will be able to be reached at email@example.com. Counterpoint will also leave its office space in the MIT Student Center, Costa wrote.
Although Counterpoint was not always the MIT-Wellesley Journal of Campus Life, it has always sought to cover news at both institutions.
In its earliest incarnation, in November 1991, it was an MIT publication of “Rational Discourse and Campus Life.” Publisher Avik S. Roy ’93 wrote in the journal’s first issue that he hoped to oppose “sensationalism” in the press and to provide an “open forum for rational debate and casual reading.” The journal hoped to take on “controversial issues such as multiculturalism, harassment, and affirmative action,” he wrote. The first issue included columns opposing and supporting MIT’s harassment policy, which was then new; it also included fiction, an events calendar and discussion of local news.
But the journal has always tried to include Wellesley, too — an ad in its first issue said “Attention Wellesley students! We want you to help us cover Wellesley Campus Life.” In its third issue, published in February 1992, Counterpoint was subtitled “The MIT-Wellesley Journal of Rational Discourse and Campus Life.”
The rational discourse departed about a decade later: February 2000’s issue was “The MIT-Wellesley Journal.” After that issue, Counterpoint was again “The MIT-Wellesley Journal of Campus Life.”
Among the magazine’s numerous lasting contributions to the public discourse at MIT and Wellesley are a survey, published in November 2001, that laid bare the sex lives of more than 500 MIT and Wellesley students; and a yearly assessment of fraternities at MIT, most notably the August 1995 “Wherever You May Roam: A Frank Guide to ILGs at MIT.”
Copies of that August 1995 issue were dumped in garbage cans in Lobby 7 and the Student Center soon after distribution.
In recent years, the magazine has focused more on Wellesley life and less on politics or on MIT news. The April 2008 “Mental Health Issue” contained several stories covering the challenges facing mental health care at Wellesley, but only one article about mental health at MIT. (That article described the late-night talk service Nightline.)
Costa and graduating co-editor in chief Edward K. Summers ’08 did not respond to requests for an interview. Summers told a Tech photographer on May 11 that he did not want to comment and that things were not finalized.
“I and my fellow 2008–2009 editorial board will remain dedicated to bringing Counterpoint back to MIT and exploring collaborative options with other area colleges,” Costa wrote in the column.