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A Platform for Divergent Perspectives Andy Smithey '20 is editor-in-chief of a new student publication, founded by Liv Cooper '20 and Genna Feirson '20, that aims to amplify unheard voices on campus.

andy_smithey_divergeEIC-800x533 A Platform for Divergent PerspectivesAndy Smithey, editor-in-chief of the new student publication, Diverge.

“Student-driven publications such as Diverge are extremely crucial on college campuses to provide students with an internal place to voice their opinions and learn about the perspectives of other students in the community.”

~ Andy Smithey ’20

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Major: Sociology and Anthropology
 Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

What factors led you to choose W&L?

One of the main reasons I came to Washington and Lee was to play basketball! I visited the campus and loved how beautiful it was and how friendly everyone was to me. Additionally, I was amazed by the endless opportunities that I would have access to as a student.

Why did you choose your areas of study?

I chose sociology and WGSS because I really enjoy understanding theories about why society is the way that it is and what social factors influence my own life. Additionally, it has forced me to critically think about other cultures and the way we impose our own views onto the lives of others. Women’s, gender, and sexuality studies gives me an outlet to take classes with other feminists who want to discuss prevalent topics surrounding gender and sexuality.

You are the editor-in-chief of a new student publication called Diverge, which will launch this week. How did that publication come to be and who has been involved in getting it off the ground?

Diverge was founded by Liv Cooper ’20 and Genna Feirson ’20, who both felt as if there was positive activism on our campus that was going unnoticed. They also noticed that a common theme among students was that many people wanted to get involved but did not know how. As a result of these two things, Genna and Liv decided to create a platform to elevate voices of those already involved and publish articles that could help identify issues for those looking to get involved. The Diverge leadership team is comprised of passionate individuals who have all worked tirelessly this semester to get Diverge ready for its launch.

diverge-800x533 A Platform for Divergent PerspectivesThe student team behind Diverge. Back row (l-r): Didi Pace ’21, Liv Cooper ’20, Jack Jahries ’20, Danny Mitchell ’20, Leeann Passaro ’20, Julia Poppenberg ’19. Front row (l-r): Andy Smithey ’20, Genna Feirson ’20, Caitlin Reardon ’20

What is the mission of Diverge?

The official mission statement: “Diverge is a platform to amplify intersectional perspectives on Washington and Lee’s campus that don’t always have the chance to be heard. We strive to begin and maintain a conversation between all members of our community about the multifaceted identities on our campus. We believe that in order to make a positive change in our community, all members need to be engaged in this dialogue.”

To me, Diverge is aimed at reaching all students across our campus by offering bipartisan articles that not only state issues but also provide possible solutions and challenge common ways of thinking.

What does your job as editor-in-chief entail?

As editor-in-chief, my main job is to make sure that each piece that Diverge publishes fits our mission and is appropriate content. Diverge has very intelligent section editors who work directly with our writers and do the initial edits. I come in after the first edits are made and make sure that all the pieces offer a wide variety of perspectives that complement each other.

In your opinion, why is it important for colleges and universities to have student-driven publications like Diverge?

Student-driven publications such as Diverge are extremely crucial on college campuses to provide students with an internal place to voice their opinions and learn about the perspectives of other students in the community. Diverge, along with the other publications on our campus, has a unique lens that different students may identify with and may aid in enhancing inclusivity at Washington and Lee.

When will Diverge officially launch and where can readers find it?

Diverge will launch Feb. 1, 2019 and will be available on the Diverge website. Students will also receive an email that will introduce them to the new publication.

If you know any W&L students who would be great profile subjects, tell us about them! Nominate them for a web profile.

More About Andy

What other extracurricular activities are you involved in?

Women’s Basketball team, Greek Life, 24

What has been your favorite class at W&L?

Modern Day Slavery in Ghana, which was a film class I took abroad last Spring Term.

Do you have any mentors here?

I wouldn’t say I have a specific mentor, but there are many people that I go to when I need advice or help in planning what I want to do with my life. I am very grateful for the diverse community of people I can lean on when needed.

What one book/film do you recommend to everyone?

“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead

What’s your favorite place to eat in the Lexington area, and what do you order?

Southern Inn’s brunch is my favorite. I order an omelet with sides of fruit and breakfast potatoes.

Do you have a personal motto?

“You win some, you lose some.”

Favorite W&L event?

Fancy Dress

Favorite W&L memory?

It is hard to pinpoint one memory that is my favorite but there have been numerous times where I was having a ton of fun with my friends and teammates and felt very happy to be here.