Dr. Leslie LaChance believes in the power of writing.
“The more I read and write, the greater becomes my passion for the written word,” she said. “I think anyone who wants to write well should read deeply, thoughtfully, daily.”
It is this passion for writing that led her to volunteer in the summer of 2003 to take over as faculty adviser to Bean Switch, UTM’s literary magazine, after the previous adviser, Dr. Carl Buchanan, died last spring.
LaChance, an associate professor of English at UTM, worked on the staff of a campus literary magazine while a masters student at State University of New York College at New Paltz, a hamlet making recent headlines because its mayor has been performing same-sex marriages.
Her involvement with the editorial process of Bean Switch, however, is in an advisory capacity only.
“I am not an editor ... I trust [the students] to make wise and thoughtful decisions,” she said, adding that her philosophy concerning Bean Switch is that each issue should reflect the values and aesthetic sensibilities of the editorial staff who, she said, “aim for the magazine to represent the best creative writing and visual art of UTM students.”
LaChance, like many student media advisers, is aware of her perceived role as a censor.
“Ultimately I will be held accountable for anything libelous that may appear in the magazine, so if a submission seems to be libelous, it will be omitted,” she said.
However, she acknowledges that the larger censorship issue is with problems with language and sexual or political content. She recommends that if a piece seems to push some societal boundary in this way, that editors “need to be able to defend the piece as a good work of literature. If they can offer such a defense, I am willing to take the risk of publishing something that might potentially offend some readers.”
“Remember, (James) Joyce’s Ulysses was once banned in this country because it was considered pornographic. Now it is routinely taught in universities world-wide.”
This year’s issue of Bean Switch is on sale for $3 in the English Department at 113 Humanities.