Arts and Culture

Rushlight launches first Reading Room event

Members of the Wheaton community rushed to the Rushlight Reading Room in the Lyons Lounge on Wednesday, Oct. 22, and Thursday, Oct. 23, to read original literary works by students. In the midst of hectic schedules, one could stop by and stay for any amount of time between 2 and 7 p.m. to relax and enjoy refreshments while reading.

Rushlight is a literary magazine that contains creative student writing in the form of poetry, short stories, plays, fiction, and nonfiction. The works explore a multitude of subjects – from beauty standards to imaginary friends to lost loves. People visited the Reading Room to read and vote on submissions, helping the Rushlight staff decide which pieces will be put in their magazine.

In the Reading Room, there were packets with differently colored covers, each of which contained a different set of submissions. After choosing a packet, a reader took a voting sheet of the corresponding color where they wrote down, in no particular order, their three favorite works from the packet. Visitors signed in on a sheet and checked off which packets they read, even though, of course, they could read as many as they pleased.

The voting process has not always worked in this manner – in fact, it’s brand new. Previously, people cast their votes through an onCourse page on which they could read submissions. There could provide a verdict and comments. This process proved to be problematic.

Emily Rosello Mercurio ’16,  co-editor of Rushlight, said that “What would happen was that the first…10 to 15 pieces would get a handful of votes…around the 50s all the way up to the 200s…and the ones at the end would get 1 or 2 or no votes.” This random sorting placed the works near the bottom at a severe disadvantage, as not many people would finish reading submissions.

With this new voting process, and thanks to the new color-coded packets, the process was more randomized. As a result, every single work was read multiple times, giving every student writer an equal opportunity to be featured in the magazine.

Mercurio said that she’s very happy with the new process. “I like this a lot,” she says. “So far it’s been working great.”

Though the votes play a large role in determining what gets into the magazine, having many votes does not necessarily guarantee getting published.

The core reading editors, along with 5 or 6 other noteworthy and respected poets or workshoppers, convene to read and discuss all of the submissions.

Together, they can veto works with many votes and choose to publish those with lesser votes. However, for the most part, the team relies heavily on the votes. “It’s semi-democratic,” says Mercurio.