It’s been said that the message is in the medium, and Vent Magazine is taking full advantage of the old adage.
Today, the magazine – which focuses on Asian American politics and pop culture – releases its fourth issue, the “Marijuana Issue.”
Vent will hold a release party tonight at 10 at 217 Club, located at 217 E St. Pre-sale tickets are $8 and tickets at the door are $15. Admission is free for those 21 and over. Free copies of the magazine will be issued at the release party.
Vent, a student publication produced by AS Papers, was established in fall 2007 by a group of friends looking for a way to raise awareness and promote discussion of different issues from an Asian American perspective. Outside of courses in Asian American studies (ASA), many of these issues were unheard of in a larger context.
“The sole concept in Asian American studies [is] going out there, making our voice heard and doing all that, but a lot of the time it just ends up being just talk – no one ever really does something,” said Eric Lam, a senior ASA major and Vent staff writer. “So we wanted to cut through all the BS and do our own magazine and get our voice heard, and the best way to do that legitimately was to get through a publication.”
Currently, the magazine is composed of a staff of about 22 volunteers in different departments, including writing, publishing, advertising and design.
Before Vent was brought to campus, the only Asian American publication was a student magazine called Accents.
“That was probably a good six years ago,” Lam said. “We definitely wanted to revive some form of journalism within the Asian American community.”
The best way to get their voice heard? Controversial issues.
“I think Vent Magazine is a really interesting publication in that it’s controversial, but it knows it’s controversial,” said Vent Art Director Michael Wang, a senior economics and design major.
A look into Vent’s past issues is a testament to their controversy factor: winter 2008’s “Sex Issue” featured articles on the racy topic and an even racier cover. The magazine’s last issue focused on unsung heroes within the Asian American community, including an ex-gang member.
For their current issue, Vent focused on another hot topic popular amongst young folk: marijuana. The staff gathered anecdotes from Asian American students on campus about drug use, opinions on the legalization of marijuana and drew the relationship between weed and the Asian American community.
“One of the main stereotypes – not just with marijuana, but with a lot of hot button, taboo issues – is that Asian Americans are very quiet, passive, not involved in those types of things,” said Vent Editor in Chief Leo Cristobal, a junior communication major. “It goes along with the model minority [stereotype].”
More than just working to challenge stereotypes, one of the magazine’s main aims is to foster discussion on issues that affect the Asian American community.
“This is our chance as a community to really have a say in how we define what it really means to be Asian American, because who really can define [it]?” Cristobal said. “It’s up to the individuals within the community.”
Another issue the magazine indirectly addresses is purposely leaving out the hyphenation in Asian American.
“When you hyphenate something, it implies that it’s a certain type of something,” Lam said. “It limits the experience.”
More importantly, Wang added that students from all backgrounds could learn from the topics covered in Vent. Ethnic studies majors such as ASA usually focus on one ethnicity or group, but the concepts and ideas taken from those classes are widely applicable, Wang said.
“This magazine’s written from an Asian American perspective, but I think it’s important because it provides perspective from one ethnic group that can be used to compare and contrast other ethnic groups and you can definitely see similarities in experiences,” Wang said. “It takes that knowledge from people who are constantly thinking about these things and disperses it to a wider audience so they can talk about and learn what’s going on.”
For more information, about Vent Magazine, visit their Facebook group or e-mail email@example.com.
RACHEL FILIPINAS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.