After flipping through the pages of Squirm, a Vassar College erotica magazine, the Committee on College Life (CCL) voted to approve a student-run magazine that will feature nude pictures of Harvard undergraduates and articles about sexual issues at its meeting yesterday.
Fourteen members of the CCL approved H Bomb—a magazine that will be similar to the Vassar publication—as an official Harvard publication. Two members abstained.
Assistant Dean of the College Paul J. McLoughlin, a CCL member, said he consulted University General Counsel Robert W. Iuliano, the University news office and University spokesperson Robert P. Mitchell before the decision.
“I needed to see if there were liability issues,” McLoughlin said.
In order to avoid liability, students will not be able to take nude pictures inside of Harvard buildings, according to McLoughlin.
He also said that although approved, the magazine will not necessarily be funded by the College.
“They will still have to go through the granting application process. [Approval] gives them the ability to apply for grants but nothing else,” he said, adding that “just to get a publication off and running is about $6,000.”
In early December, Katharina C. Baldegg and Camilla A. Hrdy, the two students who proposed the magazine, met with McLoughlin to begin the approval process for H Bomb.
Baldegg said that she did not think the process was especially difficult. CCL, which is composed of students, faculty and administrators, approves the creation of all new student groups, including publications.
“I don’t think we faced any opposition. People have been very open about it,” she said.
Hrdy said that “initially there was some concern about the nudity aspect,” but that CCL members eventually “got past the fear of porn.”
Baldegg added that she does not object to H Bomb being called porn.
“It’s a sex magazine that will hopefully be run by students of all sexual orientations and backgrounds,” Baldegg said. Baldegg said she expected the magazine, which will also include art and fiction articles, to garner a lot of attention.
“I guess student porn is sort of an underground thing,” she said.
Only students of the College will be posing for the magazine’s photographs and they will all be 18 or older, Baldegg said.
Associate Dean of the College Judith H. Kidd said officially approved organizations do not necessarily represent the views of the College. She expected varied reaction to the new publication.
“There will be people who will value the free speech [...] and people whose sensibilities are offended,” said Kidd, who was also at yesterday’s meeting. “[CCL] also very strongly felt we ought to be able to approve these organizations.”
“Committee members really sort of look at it as, ‘Is it something if the student body would want? Is it feasible?’ Not ‘Would I join?’” McLoughlin said.
McLoughlin also said he thought the magazine might generate considerable attention, even outside of the College.
“I guess I can’t imagine that it won’t,” he said.
Baldegg and Hrdy anticipate that their magazine will be published bi-annually, starting this semester. They are thinking about distributing the first issue of the magazine during commencement ceremonies in May, Hrdy said.
Lecturer on the Study of Religion Brian C.W. Palmer said many pornographic publications often walk the line of objectifying women.
“Much depends on the values of the editors. Quite possibly the magazine will sell, as so much else sells, by commodifying women’s bodies and including an occasional half-nude man as an alibi,” Palmer wrote in an e-mail.
Professor of Psychology Marc D. Hauser, who teaches Science, “Evolution of Human Nature,” nicknamed “Sex” by students, will serve as the Faculty adviser for H Bomb.