First-years finally have a real shot at being published in a journal.
The Columbia University Libraries’ Center for Digital Research and Scholarship is launching a revamped Morningside Review, an online review that will exclusively feature the work of first-year students.
Though the journal has existed in past years as course material in University Writing classes, administrators “teamed up with CDRS to revamp the existing journal of undergraduate writing to create a forum worthy of showcasing the outstanding essays produced by Columbia’s newest students,” according to a statement released by the University Writing Program last Thursday.
“I think it’s a really good idea because it gives undergrads—especially in … a Core class, where you feel like everyone’s just taking it and there’s not necessarily this environment for growth—it gives you something to push for,” Zachary Hendrickson, CC ’16, said.
For administrators, this is a welcome change.
“We are thrilled to be moving the Morningside Review to this format,” Nicole B. Wallack, director of the Undergraduate Writing
Program said in a statement. “The student essays in the Morningside Review bridge the worlds within and beyond Columbia, and do so in exemplary fashion. We are fortunate that the hard work of our University Writing instructors and students yields an impressive pool of essays.”
The submissions will all be taken from the University Writing courses that all first-year students are required to take in the fall or spring of their first year. According to the Undergraduate Writing Program’s website, it receives “hundreds” of submissions, but only 10 are chosen by an editorial board of University Writing professors and students.
The new format, Wallack said, will only improve the quality.
Hendrickson said he thinks that this will help first-years feel like they have a voice at Columbia early on.
“The idea that if you’re one of the best essays, you might actually get featured—I think that’s something that will give people an incentive to work harder ... Especially this idea that people might actually know their name from something that they’ve put forth in the world, which is really what academic culture is, in a sense.”
According to representatives from CDRS, revamping consisted of everything from creating the logo to developing a unique identity for the review through web design. One additional feature will be photos of all contributors with the intention of giving a face to the work.
“CDRS provided us with an online presence for the Morningside Review that is akin to professional journals and so honors the students whose work appear in it,” said Wallack.
Upperclassmen had mixed reactions to the new online version, split over the impact it will have on the University Writing experience.
Jieun Lim, also CC ’14, said that he worried it could leave the program at risk of academic dishonesty. “I don’t know how much what I say would actually matter. But if that was the case ... I think it [the changes] would be both good and bad,” he said. “It’d be good in the sense that people can model off of it. But at the same time, a lot of people get ideas from other people. I’m sure that a lot of the topics would be reused, so I feel like it could be a bit dangerous in the sense of plagiarism.”
For the people behind the program though, these pieces will serve as inspiration and hopefully raise the bar in University Writing.
“The Morningside Review plays two crucial roles for the Undergraduate Writing Program: It provides current students in University Writing with work to which they can aspire, and it provides University Writing teachers with work from which they can aspire,” Wallack said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that this journal was only open to submissions for Columbia College students. In fact, anyone who is taking University Writing is eligible for the journal. Spectator regrets the error.