A statement about the statement
Michigan Daily Magazine, The Statement, is quickly described as a “long-running magazine that interweaves the genres of news, opinion and creative non-fiction.” This could serve as an adequate elevator pitch; however, after almost a year of writing for The Statement, learning its history, and internalizing the brilliant contributions of my fellow student-writers, I think more thought is due to the development of the current Daily magazine.
The Declaration was born out of the 2005 redesign of The Daily’s weekly magazine, The Weekend Magazine. The Daily’s 2005 editor-in-chief Jason Pesick told me over the phone that the motivation behind the redevelopment “was to put more analysis, sophistication and thought into the Daily, and one way to do that was to put longer journalism in The Daily.
In the Editor’s Note published alongside the debut of The Statement, Pesick and 2005 magazine editor Doug Wernert explained that, compared to Weekend magazine, “it is smarter, in an effort to expose new ideas and information to readers. , Noting that their overall view of the magazine has changed.
The magazine’s name in 2005, The Statement, pays homage to the Port Huron Declaration, a 25,700-word manifesto written in 1962 as the founding document of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Amid Vietnam and cold wars and staggering inequality in all their forms, a coalition of student activists led by University of Michigan student Tom Hayden gathered in Port Huron, Mich., To condemn militarization, economic conditions and racism coinciding with inequality and apathy in the United States. States and around the world.
In their book exploring the impact of the document to show that “[its] the ideas that inspired a generation of young radicals over half a century ago are just as important and provocative today, ”sociologist Richard Flacks and historian Nelson Lichtenstein credit the declaration of Port Huron as the “Founding Manifesto of the New Left”. Drafted by the same group that pushed JFK to create the Peace Corps on the Michigan Union Steps, the Port Huron declaration inspired LBJ’s “Great Society” speech, written by Richard Goodwin, and was cited with both admiration and dissent.
Pesick and Wernert shared that the use of the Port Huron statement as the magazine’s eponym was not necessarily due to ideological admiration for the document. However, I think I should ask myself why the Port Huron Declaration was still relevant enough almost fifty years after its writing to have an impact on the evolution of The Daily magazine.
Unlike the News and Opinion sections of the Michigan Daily, The Statement offers a different kind of literary freedom to its writers. Statement articles produce in-depth analyzes of any topic that editors and authors deem worthy. Additionally, writers have relatively greater latitude in the style and structure of their plays, resulting in the inclusion of fiction, poetry, personal narratives, and perspectives in Statement’s plays.
As a result, The Statement provides a space for students to write shamelessly and creatively about the myriad troubling issues they face and those around them. Perhaps inevitably, these efforts mirror those of the authors of the original statement, who presented the document as “an effort rooted in the old, yet unsatisfied conception of man as a being struggling to determine influence over his life. situation”.
Of course, we are both a product and a supporter of our situation. It’s a messy ebb and flow – perhaps, as they wrote in 1962, a “push and pull between the suspicion of change and the desire for change, between dogmatism and radicalism” – The Declaration embraces this reality. Each piece recognizes and explores our circumstances flowing between the front page news, the little talk on the kitchen table, and the sitcom lines, in an attempt to demonstrate them as important issues in society that we must inherit.
Finding meaning and motivation in the changing circumstances of our personal experiences, The Statement, in subjects arguably less devastating than those of the 1960s, still attempts “to make war and peace relevant to the problems of daily life, by connecting them to the backyard (shelters), the baby (fallout), work (military contracts)… ”Perhaps as a generation that has come to a world still threatened by nuclear war as the The United States has supported conflicts in the Middle East, we don’t feel the concepts of war and peace as personally as those about to be sent to Vietnam or face social exile for an interracial marriage.
Instead, more recent statement pieces include affirmations and understandings of his atheism, frustrations in the ubiquitous struggle to be “cool”, reflections on the difficulties low-income students have in paying rental, memories of the life of a parent shortly after his death and dialogues on body dysmorphia. The Declaration addresses intimate concepts of love, loss, and struggle, as well as seemingly more generalizable ones, of housing, sex, and student life, bringing awareness and analysis to otherwise unheard of and irrelevant pieces to the Daily. .
Speaking to former editors and scanning previous editions of The Statement, it seems the magazine has evolved to include more staff statements. The analyzes of Title IX and the proposal for an Ann Arbor monorail have turned into reflections on life with autoimmune diseases in the United States and everyone’s experience with Polaroids. These articles are critical reflections of consumerism and the American healthcare system, but I wonder if the magazine’s current trend to include more staff Declarations is consistent with the vision and force of the Port Huron Declaration.
I wonder if last year’s editions of the Declaration, or at least my articles, did not meet the expectations of the essence of the section. I maintain that every article cannot or should not carry the weight of the world. This is perhaps more affectionately the task of unique pieces such as the Port Huron Declaration. Nonetheless, Statement articles offer an important, if not nonexistent, avenue for student journalism and activism.
The intentions of the section have inevitably evolved since its inception in 2005, especially as the magazine’s editorial staff and authorship changes every semester. Perhaps the 2005 statement is a separate statement, different in structure and style from this year’s magazine. However, it still seems that the pieces of the Declaration, as personal as they are, argued for a perspective of heightened understanding and empathy, and served as social commentary in a way that, while different from the devouring approach to the Port Huron Declaration. , are powerful.
Port Huron’s statement is not perfect. It fails to adequately advocate for gender equality and could offer much more about its core values and how those values would appear on a daily basis if we actualized a society that embraces them. But no matter where or if you fall on the spectrum, the Port Huron Declaration is a touchstone of student activism and participatory democracy – the same ideals it was born out of and advocates for.
2007 statement editor Anne VanderMey explained that her interpretation of the statement name from the Port Huron statement “was a nod to a time when [the University] was very present in the national conversation and at a time when students… were very meaningfully involved in current events and the world around them.
The Port Huron Declaration is a bold, daring and inspiring example of the capabilities of American youth; a group of around sixty students in their early twenties worked together for four days and four nights to produce a 25,000-word document filled with historical details, philosophical analysis, and insightful reflections on their desired path to l ‘humanity. At the very least, the Port Huron Declaration endures thanks to its namesake as a source of inspiration for student-writers who dare to publish their declarations, no matter how personal or assembled they are.
Almost sixty years later, we have new conflicts with new names, different presidents and six decades that separate us from the Port Huron Declaration. Despite this distance, several of the main concerns of the Port Huron Declaration read with disappointing relevance: the weakening of the labor movement, legal exploitation, the military-industrial complex, all mixed with staggering inequalities and apathy. generalized.
Not only does the Port Huron Declaration identify these issues and propose solutions, despite the magnitude of their collective weight which is the fear of the end of all things, it also suggests the approach with which change must be pursued. The Port Huron Declaration states: “It is the faith that alternatives exist and can be discovered that must move people. The understanding of human values, of the nature of man, of the composition of modern society, is the urgent task of reformers. “
With the year 2020 in the past but none of its major issues in hindsight, this might be the best time for The Statement. to convey the subtleties of everyday life arising from the crises that await the future. The fear and hope contained in the Port Huron declaration resonate with readers today. Like the many paradoxes it illustrates with regard to the conditions of society, there is a vast mixture of complex, even contradictory emotions, which will encourage us in our better days to pursue progress.
It is with this fear and hope that The Statement has taken up the torch from its namesake. By exploring what troubles us, enlightens us and confuses us most in the world that we have not yet inherited, we honor the legacy of the Port Huron Declaration, whose effects are evident in corners of campus and throughout across the country, between the lines at Daily and in so many ways, because it has inspired us to think critically, creatively, imaginatively and unabashedly as we look to the future.
With 25,000 words under my belt, I write for The Statement with a greater appreciation for the work of the students before and around me who have inspired and made the section possible. Honoring the guiding principles of analysis, advocacy and solidarity of the Port Huron Declaration, the magazine offers the opportunity to participate, as an author or reader, in the crucial goals of greater understanding and empathy.
Despite the questionable shortcomings of the declaration, the evolution of the section and the institutions that provide this platform, I approach all with a desire for change, to honor the Port Huron declaration as a gift of such an era. different but so terribly similar, or, in the words of its lead author, “a message sent in a bottle, and participatory democracy a drinking tradition for future rebels.”
The correspondent for the statement, Leah Leszcynski, can be contacted at [email protected]