The students behind The Catalyst, a new student-run literary arts magazine, have requested a lock-in fee in the upcoming Associated Students election in an effort to ensure continued quarterly publications.

A revival of the Catalyst Literary Journal, which ran from 1992 to 2007, the magazine is a student publication of the UCSB English Department that allows students across different disciplines to collaborate and showcase their creative art and writing. The proposed lock-in fee will charge undergraduates $1.08 a quarter, beginning in the fall quarter of the 2014 academic year and will go towards publication and distribution costs of The Catalyst.

Of the $1.08 fee, $0.75 will go towards The Catalyst with the rest directed towards A.S. and administrative services as return-to-aid.

The inaugural Winter 2014 issue of The Catalyst featured creative prose, poetry and academic writing juxtaposed with hand-drawn art and photos. All the work in the 80-page winter issue was submitted by UCSB students, however, the magazine is not limited to undergraduates; The Catalyst also accepts submissions from UCSB graduate students, faculty and alumni.

Third-year English major Natalie O’Brien, who serves as The Catalyst’s editor in chief, said the proposed lock-in fee could “make or break” the magazine depending on whether or not it passes. According to O’Brien, the magazine staff relied on the UCSB English department, individual students and local donations to fund its first publication, which she does not see as being reliable in the future. O’Brien also said the magazine wants to ensure that it remains free of cost to students.

“The costs of printing our magazine, especially in color, are staggering and we really need help from students,” O’Brien said.

According to O’Brien, only 750 copies of Winter ’14 issue The Catalyst were printed and more than half of those went to attendees at the magazine’s launch party in January.

If the initiative passes, O’Brien said she believes the magazine can more widely circulate around campus and Isla Vista. Otherwise, The Catalyst could be restricted to an online edition, she said.

“We only made our magazine available in print at the Isla Vista Food Co-Op and at the English department, and we have had a tough time just keeping these two locations stocked with magazines,” O’Brien said. “We would hate to only publish our content online.”

Although an online edition would be the most cost effective way to publish The Catalyst, O’Brien said she and contributors to the magazine want printed copies available to readers.

First-year art major Vijay Masharani, whose artwork appears throughout the publication’s first issue, said he believes The Catalyst gives artists like himself a good opportunity to collaborate with individuals from other disciplines and majors.

“Visual artists, sculptors, theorists, writers and critics work in an interdisciplinary manner that really poses an interesting challenge to the individual artist,” Masharani said. “The Catalyst promotes a mode of art that is more resonant because it represents a conversation between multiple people, as opposed to a monologue coming from one person.”

Masharani said he believes working with others students to create artwork for The Catalyst has been invaluable in his maturation as an artist.

Fourth-year global studies major Mariah Tiffany also said she appreciates The Catalyst for being an effective outlet for her own creativity.

“Although I am not an art major, I love photography and The Catalyst has been a great platform for me to exhibit my talents,” Tiffany said.


A version of this story appeared on page 5 of Thursday, April 17, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.