H Bomb Loses Official Status

Campus sex magazine fails to sustain initial hype

Nearly three years after its first detonation, H Bomb’s glow has faded.

Although Harvard’s student-run sex magazine is still basking in the aftershocks of the media frenzy it generated, H Bomb lost official student group status earlier this month after failing to meet the requirements for student group recognition.

H Bomb has not been published because of financial woes since the spring of 2005, when it printed its second—and final—issue, according to former H Bomb business manager Vladimir P. Djuric ’06.

But Paul J. McLoughlin II, assistant dean of the College, said that it was not its dormancy, but rather its incomplete registration that led to the loss of H Bomb’s official student group status. Requirements for student group recognition include a proposed budget, a minimum of two officers, and a constitution, said McLoughlin.

H Bomb’s only current officer is president Ming E. Vandenberg ’08, who declined to comment for this story.

McLoughlin said the magazine staff had another chance to complete its registration by last Sunday, but it again failed to meet the deadline.

“Perhaps there is just more interest on the outside than on the inside,” he said. “Maybe everyone wants to read it, but no one wants to work on it.”

The magazine received widespread media attention when the College recognized it as an official Harvard publication in February 2004, and despite its defunct status, it still retains its notoriety. The recent March 4 issue of The New York Times Magazine mentioned the H Bomb in a feature on college sex magazines, and showcased a picture of Vandenberg holding the magazine’s second issue.

“The combination of Harvard and sex will always hold a certain public fascination,” said Djuric, who is also a former Crimson executive editor. “The media frenzy just snowballed until we printed our first issue.”

According to Djuric, the first issue of H Bomb cost $12,000 to print, and was funded mostly by advertisements, an Undergraduate Council grant, and issue sales. After financial limitations prevented their third issue from printing in the spring of 2006, H Bomb considered the possibility of a book deal with campus sex blogger Lena Chen ’09.

But according to Chen, who is a Crimson magazine editor, her many other commitments prevented the idea from coming to fruition.

“The leadership of H Bomb is in a state of transition from its founders to [Vandenberg],” Djuric said. “It needs people to produce quality content, funds to print, and a small team of guys who are really dedicated.”

“Right now, there really isn’t that team of people,” he said.

Without student group status, H Bomb can still print issues, but they cannot advertise or distribute their magazine on campus. H Bomb’s staff can reapply for student group status in the fall, but they would have to be approved by the Committee for College Life (CCL), as if they were a new organization. According to McLoughlin, the CCL would take into account H Bomb’s past history if it were to vote on restoring their official status.

H Bomb is only one of the many student groups who have lost official status since October, the first deadline for submitting registration materials. Other groups include the Harvard College Middle East Review, the Harvard Ukrainian Society, and the Harvard College Mahjong Club.

H Bomb co-founder Katharina P. Cieplak-Von Baldegg ’06-’07 could not be reached for comment.

—Staff writer Nan Ni can be reached at nni@fas.harvard.edu.