Dunster House residents were surprised, if not a little taken aback, when they received an e-mail over the house list last weekend soliciting nude photographs of “all hot Harvard girls.” If the e-mail had not come from a FAS student account, it probably would have been filtered into e-mail spam folders with the likes of Viagra advertisements and congratulatory e-mails from fake lottery organizations.
The source of the email was Dunster House resident Matthew M. Di Pasquale ’08, the creator of Diamond—Harvard’s newest magazine. If published, Diamond will join campus sex magazine H Bomb in the business of publishing photographs of nude undergraduates. Di Pasquale believes that Diamond will stand out by being “more Hollywood”—à la Maxim or Playboy. His goal of classiness, unfortunately, seems to have been lost in the way he chose to solicit models.
Given the plethora of campus publications that already exist, students might wonder whether Harvard needs another sex magazine—or any new publications at all. Our door boxes are stuffed with student-run publications on a range of topics, from admirable efforts at political-science commentary to social magazines (such as the now-infamous Scene). It goes without saying that different publications have different audiences, and naturally, some are better received than others. Despite the waxing and waning of magazines’ popularity, it says something positive about the state of the free press and entrepreneurial spirit on campus that students feel confident enough to start their own publications, regardless of their viability.
Journalistic freedom and onslaught of student start-ups aside, the media campaign for Diamond’s models leaves much to be desired. The mass e-mail calling for nude photos from “hot” undergraduate women seemed offensive to many. Residential houses should not be places where undergraduates feel objectified. The magazine’s website—although still under construction—does not try to obscure the pornographic nature of the magazine’s aims. Content was described as a mixture of “entertaining, interesting and practical articles” and “sexy photo shoots and interviews with hot college girls.”
Di Pasquale is probably right in identifying an audience on campus—and perhaps beyond Harvard—for Diamond. H Bomb has published off and on since 2004, and it would be naïve to argue that porn does not exist in campus dorms. Students’ uneasiness, therefore, stems from the way in which content is being solicited and its inconsistency with the magazine’s purported mission: “class, prestige, and style.”
Perhaps Di Pasquale has overlooked the fact that the method and language used to advertise Diamond to potential readers might not be well received by the communities he chose to solicit for potential models. This difference was overlooked, just as the magazine’s mission of classiness seems to have been.