Two new student publications made their debut at Notre Dame in the fall of 2010, and now LOST PIECE and PEREGRINE are working to establish a firm readership among students and professors alike. The two journals developed separately out of a perceived “lack of something” at the university. For Lost Piece, it was a lack of informal intellectual discussion, and for PEREGRINE, it was a lack of meaningful and honest discussion about students’ experiences abroad.
Senior Jess Shaffer, the founder and head editor of PEREGRINE, sought a way to unite her deep passion for travel with her love of the written word. Shaffer, the daughter of a professor who taught courses abroad, traces her love of travel to the summers she spent in Germany as a child. Her journalistic tendencies developed at Notre Dame, where she worked at the OBSERVER until her junior year. At that time she chose to retire from the paper, wanting “a new personal challenge for [herself].”
She designed PEREGRINE to be a venue for students to share their travel experiences with complete honesty. According to Shaffer, she saw “a need that hadn’t been met; people haven’t talked about their experiences in a meaningful way.” She wanted students to know that someone cared about the perspectives they had to offer.
Shaffer and her staff of over 30 people publish the journal once a semester. She said of her staff, “I’m so lucky to have them. Everyone brings something unique to the table.” Shaffer does not know if PEREGRINE will continue to be a campus publication after she graduates, or if she will take it with her outside the sphere of the university.
PEREGRINE works off of a non-profit business model developed by Shaffer herself. She began with nothing and had to sell ads and sponsorships based on the business model alone. She said that she has been encouraged by the number of students who have approached her about writing for the magazine and even about starting publications themselves.
LOST PIECE did not imitate Shaffer’s model, but its founders are likewise seeking to fill a niche on campus.
According to editor Joey Kuhn, Lost Piece is the “brainchild” of chief editor Stephen Lechner. In the fall of 2009, Kuhn and Lechner met for the first time and had a discussion about “how it seemed like many of the students at Notre Dame were just going through the motions, going to classes and trying to get good grades, but there was something missing that seemed…to be the core of university education,” said Kuhn.
He calls that missing piece an “integration factor,” defined as the motivation to unite one’s classroom learning and extracurricular experiences into a cohesive whole.
Kuhn noted that Lechner’s original idea was to have a web forum where students from all different areas of study could “post their writings and discuss things…[bringing] together the little isolated pockets of intellectually-minded people.” The idea evolved into the journal that can now be found alongside the Observer and Scholastic in several locations on campus.
The editors only have one requirement for any submission: The piece must be well-written. Aside from that, all types of work are encouraged, including stories, poems, personal essays, dialogues, and word collages. LOST PIECE claims originality in welcoming such a variety of styles and so “providing an outlet for students’ written reflections, whether these be…in high philosophical style or in rhymed poetry,” said Kuhn.
According to Kuhn, the journal has received a positive reception on campus. Limited funding has prevented it from being widely distributed across campus, but the editors’ latest initiative has been to place copies of LOST PIECE in the dining halls with the hope of further increasing readership. Kuhn expressed hope that the journal would continue publication after the graduation of the four editors, all of whom are seniors, but its future is yet undecided.
Laura Lindsley is happy to support independent student publications and thanks her fellow PLS majors, Jess and Joey, for contributing to the article. Laura can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.