Campus Spotlight: Linda and M, Editors of 2020's Disorientation Guide
By: Natalie Leinbach
Whereas every college student goes through a mandatory campus-sponsored orientation, college institutions don't tell you everything you need to know about campus life. The UMD Disorientation Guide aims to correct that. Who could be more privy to campus life than the students themselves? We sat down with Linda Kuo and M Pease, the Editors of the newly release 2020 guide, to find out more.
MM: What is the UMD Disorientation Guide?
M: A publication designed to elevate student and activist voices and provide a critical, realistic take on life at the University of Maryland to current and incoming students by highlighting the perspectives that are often hidden in a traditional, administration-sanctioned orientation program.
MM: How did you come up with the idea for the Guide?
Linda: Disorientation Guides are published by universities and colleges across the country to address issues surrounding justice and identity, and to critique university operations. The first edition of the UMD Disorientation Guide was actually published in 1970, called the UMD Radical Guide.
MM: So, who initiated the idea for a 2020 UMD Disorientation Guide?
Linda: I initiated the production of the Guide after hearing from a UPenn friend about the one on their campus. I met the editors of the 2014-2015 UMD Disorientation Guide and was able to get started with their help. Then I brought on M, who I knew from working in the Gender, Culture, and Health Lab.
MM: Who was involved in this project?
Linda: M Pease and I act as the editors of the 2020 UMD Disorientation Guide, compiling and editing pieces and designing the layout of the final publication. The cover illustration is by Joella Huynh. The contributions are by a variety of organizations and UMD students, past and present, writing in their areas of experience and expertise.
MM: What feature of the Guide is the strongest? Weakest?
M: I think the strongest component of the Guide is the quality and variety of texts we were able to include by publishing it online. The fact that the guide provides student perspectives on critical topics makes the pieces in it especially unique.
Linda: Perhaps the Guide could have been strengthened with more contemporary submissions. We asked for contributions around the time the coronavirus pandemic started to worsen, so many potential contributors understandably had much more pressing matters at hand. To address this, we updated and included a few pieces that had been included in past publications.
MM: What is your goal in publishing this literature?
M: A Disorientation Guide is one step towards bridging that gap between how the university portrays itself and how its students truly experience it, providing students with vital information and perspectives. While the university is quick to tout diversity and inclusion-related initiatives, they seldom acknowledge the systematic and interpersonal barriers experienced by marginalized communities on campus.
Linda: I think content creation and resource development can be a great support to students. It would be great if the Guide can help connect different students and organizations, and function as a conduit for working together and building relationships. This project can also aid in preserving student voices in institutional memory, through documenting our experiences and reflections at specific moments in time.
MM: How do you see this Guide functioning in the future at UMD and beyond?
M: We hope to see the Disorientation Guide become a wide-spread, annual publication, continuing to elevate important perspectives to current students while simultaneously becoming an archive of UMD student-activism for years to come.
Linda: Since being a student is an inherently transient and temporary state, we hope that the Disorientation Guide can help students pass on their knowledge and experiences after they graduate or leave. It’s my vision that new students can learn from upperclassmen and alumni, continue building on this labor, and create long-term positive change as our collective voice grows stronger.
All current and past Guides are accessible online.
If you are interested in contributing to or being involved in next year’s publication, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For students seeking to supplement their research on the topics covered in the Guide, here is a collection of some recent Disorientation Guides from other schools. Thank you to ECAASU for putting this together.
Linda Kuo (she/her/hers) photo courtesy of Kuo
We greatly appreciate the work that our previous editors and contributors have done for this Guide, as well as sincerely thank all of our contributors and readers this year. It has been a very meaningful and fulfilling experience to be able to continue this project, and we hope that we can see it take on new life in the future. It would be great if M and I can be of assistance to Disorientation Guide editors down the road like the previous team had kindly done for us.
M Pease (they/them/theirs) photo courtesy Pease
I’m incredibly grateful to have helped revive this publication and I can’t wait to see what becomes of it! Just make sure you all take care of yourselves; the world is truly a difficult place (to understate it considerably) and you deserve a break. Also, please do reach out if you’d like to get involved; we’d love to hear from you!