In fall 2001, less than a month into his Emory
career, Mitchell Kominsky began looking for extracurricular activities.
So, he signed up with The Emory Wheel, the University’s
student newspaper. He didn’t like it, though, and after two
weeks dropped it.
Undaunted, Kominsky decided to take things into his own hands. He’d
start his own publication.
“I was very political in high school,” said Kominsky,
a junior from Davie, Fla. Davie is in Broward County in south Florida,
the epicenter of the 2000 presidential election—the first
one Kominsky voted in. Therefore, a bit of political activism isn’t
“I came to Emory and just wanted to do something meaningful
here,” he continued. “So, I figured combining my interest
in politics with something I’d never done—publication—might
be something to ponder.”
The result of that pondering, and a whole lot of work, is the Emory
Political Review. EPR is a student-produced publication that
strives to present scholarly, non-partisan discussion of past, current
and future domestic and foreign political issues. Kominsky is editor-in-chief.
While political activism certainly exists on campus, Emory students—and
college students in general—are less political than their
elders. Kominsky said voting in the 2000 election was a very big
deal to him, but he found few other members of his freshman class
who felt the same.
Despite that indifference, Emory is home to politically themed student
publications. For instance, The Fire This Time is a student-produced
magazine that explores political and social issues important to
“The majority of students, I think, have a certain political
apathy,” said Kominsky, who had no publishing background—not
even on his high school newspaper—before creating EPR. “What
was important was having a publication that could be of interest
to students, and that means tackling controversial issues such as
The cover of EPR’s recently released Spring 2003 edition reads
“A Drug Issue,” and the magazine devotes 10 of its 45
pages to the subject, including essays on drug testing, laws designed
to curb smoking in public, prescription drugs and even an interview
with the editor-in-chief of High Times magazine.
Other thoughtfully presented, student-written stories touch on subjects
like U.S.-European relations, Iraq policy and the political troubles
in Venezuela. The faculty piece is Associate Professor of History
Kathryn Amdur’s story about traveling to India in January
with the Claus Halle Institute for Global Learning.
EPR approaches its subjects from a wide range of viewpoints; nonpartisanship,
Kominsky said, is one of his primary goals. “I don’t
want it to become a conservative-leaning magazine or a liberal-leaning
magazine,” said Kominsky, who prefers to keep his own political
viewpoints—which he is still exploring—private.
“I don’t think that anyone can clearly relate to a specific
party on every issue,” he continued, adding that he has had
his mind changed by at least one article he published in EPR.
“Emory and other schools are breeding future politicians and
future business people,” Kominsky said. “It’s
important for students to have a grip on the issues, and what better
way to do that than present them in an interesting way?”
While the subject matter of EPR always has been interesting, the
product itself is a work in progress. The first issue, released
last spring, was minimalist in design with little in the way of
graphics. But its strong content was undeniable.
Writers included Randall Strahan, associate professor of political
science, and President Bill Chace. Chace has proven to be particularly
supportive of EPR. Not only did he write the page 1 essay of the
publication’s first issue, but he also spoke at an EPR-sponsored
forum about student leadership and even had dinner with the 10 members
of EPR’s editorial board last month.
“Mitchell Kominsky and his colleagues have done a wonderful
job in bringing a new, and serious, publication into the Emory intellectual
community,” said Chace. “EPR is a thoughtful, searching
and impressive magazine, and I look forward to its continuing to
publish a wide range of solid contributions to our understanding
of political life, both national and international.”
EPR’s Spring 2003 issue represents several dramatic leaps
forward. There is a defined format with section headers. The photography
is better and even includes a page of political cartoons. The first
three issues are archived at www.learnlink.emory.edu/STUDENTS/epr.
Kominsky is hardly alone in producing the magazine. Members of its
10-person editorial board are each responsible for editing their
sections. Outside copy editors are utilized, as well as Margaret
Tate, student media advisor.
But it is Kominsky who oversees the entire operation, recruiting
writers, having the final edit, leading the discussion of story
ideas, hiring and firing staff, and marketing the publication, all
the while maintaining a GPA of 3.5.
Kominsky finished the year on a very high note. Not only was EPR’s
fourth issue released, but he also was named Leader of the Year
at the first Media Council Awards program.
“I was very surprised by that,” said Kominsky, who accepted
his award at a banquet in Woodruff Library’s Jones Room on
April 7. “It’s humbling, but at the same time, my goal
is not to win things for myself but to benefit Emory.”
Any budget concerns are gone as well. Since EPR operated this academic
year without a charter from Media Council, Kominsky had to present
each product to the council and then ask them to pay for it. He
never had a problem getting the cash (each issue costs about $4,000,
all of which went to production costs), but it was one more thing
to worry about.
Beginning in the fall, EPR has a permanent charter with yearly budget
of $18,000. That makes for an average production cost of $6,000
for each of EPR’s three planned issues in 2003–04.
Planning for EPR’s Fall 2003 issue will begin at the start
of the semester. Kominsky said there will be a meeting to recruit
new writers and editors, with a focus on bringing in freshmen. The
completed issue will hit the stands sometime in November.
Kominsky’s long-term goal is to give EPR a national identity—to
make it a must-read for students across the country. Already courtesy
copies are mailed to some political science departments (Harvard
is one), but feedback has been slow. He added that another goal
is to develop a subscription service so the publication would available
“Of course, the first goal is to establish it at Emory, and
it’s moving in that direction,” Kominsky said. “But
by the time I graduate, I’d like to expand. What better way
to try and accomplish something at Emory besides a big GPA than
to create a publication, watch it grow and hopefully—when
I come back in 20 years—see it flourish.” Academically,
Kominsky, a history major, wants to pursue his master’s in
that subject after earning his bachelor’s degree.
In the short term, Kominsky’s summer plans are less ambitious—but
no less important. He’s going home to Florida to get a job.
“I’ll try to use my family connections, like most Emory
students,” he quipped.