After The Ankh stopped publishing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the publication for students of color will be returning to campus this Fall. The effort has been headed by Genesis Pimentel ’23, who is setting up the club to be run by Editors-in-Chief Ava Yuanshun Guralnick ’25 and Darlene De La Cruz ’25 in the Fall 2023 semester. The Ankh is a publication that showcases the work—including poetry, essays, visual art, and more—of students of color at the University, aimed to elevate voices that may not have another platform to be heard and to stimulate conversation between communities of color on campus.

When The Ankh was founded in 1985, it was formed to be a newspaper in opposition to The Argus. As a publication run by a predominantly white masthead, The Argus often did not report on events that focused on students of color (SOC) The Ankh was formed as a way to highlight such events as well as feature the literary and artistic work of SOC. After a pause in publishing, The Ankh returned as a magazine, launching its platform through an online version in 2017.

“Founded in 1985, the Ankh has served as a vehicle of expression and empowerment for Wesleyan’s students, faculty, and staff of color,” The Ankh’s mission statement reads. “Each semester, the Ankh puts together a publication composed and compiled entirely by people of color at Wesleyan and beyond.”

Pimentel was inspired to restart The Ankh after taking a senior seminar in creative writing. She explained that, as she got more involved with the writing scene at The University, she felt the need for The Ankh to come back. For her, the historical importance that The Ankh has had on campus is a vital place of political action and expression.

“I saw how The Ankh had historically been a place for community,” Pimentel wrote in an email to The Argus. “Not because there is something missing from the scene currently but because we all can connect and yearn for shared art and what the publication has signified for coalition building, and how it can be a space to redefine our communities and our relationships to one another, even if the landscape of publications has gotten more diverse and broad on campus (which is a great thing!).”

In addition to being a place for creative expression, The Ankh will also provide a space for political expression. 

“I would hope that The Ankh remains true to its roots and stays political, which means tapping into non-literary organizations often,” Pimentel wrote. “It was my desire to collaborate with AASWG [the Asian American Studies Working Group], Mic Check, and the really dope fashion shows that have popped up but unfortunately time was against me! But that the new board should have these kinds of thought processes of how to connect and make us stronger and make us better artists will be crucial.” 

Pimentel explained that the process of reviving The Ankh has been difficult because of the bureaucratic hoops she has had to jump through. Due to the procedural rules that govern student groups, Pimentel was unable to unfreeze The Ankh on WesNest this semester, and is doing everything she can to set up the club for next semester when it will functionally begin. 

“It has been difficult because it has been a frozen group for at least two years now and Student Involvement is very intent on solving the crisis that is organizations falling to the wayside which was caused by the pandemic,” Pimentel wrote. “The process of restructuring was very tedious, but I was intentional on building a club with leadership and membership that was cross-functional, that allowed for new skills to be developed, but also allowed for both upwards and sideways position shifts. It remains communal and loosely structured in general, but that process had to be implemented for longevity.”

Additionally, though Pimentel will graduate at the end of this semester, she expressed excitement about the directions Guralnick and De La Cruz will take the publication.

“The bureaucratic processes are very taxing and as a senior, it was hard to keep pushing but as Darlene and Ava take on what I started and grow it, I am so excited to see what they do,” Pimentel wrote. “I am rooting for them to do what I did not have the opportunity to do–genuinely run this magazine and its offshoots. I am excited to have even been able to set up any support for them long-term because that mentorship is so crucial.”

Despite the difficulties that Pimentel, De La Cruz, and Guralnick have faced in their efforts to revive The Ankh, Guralnick explained that all the struggles are worth it because of the undeniable importance of the space The Ankh provides on campus. They explained that this work is a labor of love, as students working on The Ankh are not paid for the hours they put in. 

“Our work does not get compensated, despite the many hours we put into it,” Guralnick wrote in an email to The Argus. “I would not be doing this labor if I did not think it was absolutely necessary and needed. Institutional memory is hard to maintain here at Wesleyan, especially due to the pandemic, but also more specifically when that political organizing and expression comes from students of color at a predominantly White institution. This fact alone, while also knowing the importance and immense beauty of the students of color at Wesleyan, is enough, for me at least, to continue to create and maintain spaces like The Ankh at Wesleyan.”

Guralnick recalled her experiences getting involved with a pre-existing literary organization at the University and finding that she didn’t feel fully comfortable in a predominantly-white space. She hopes that The Ankh will provide a space for SOC to be comfortable and grow together, and is eager to explore the different ways that conversations about writing will be approached in a group entirely made up of people of color.

You also predominantly only hear about students of color doing something when it relates to their racial identity, so using the Ankh as [a place for] creative expression is important,” Guralnick wrote. 

In addition to The Ankh, the campus community will also be welcoming back Utterances, a literary publication centering the voices of Asian and Asian-American students that, similarly to The Ankh, took a hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a member of the AASWG, Guralnick has been working on the project of reviving Utterances as well as The Ankh.

“Utterances has given a platform for Asian American writers, artists, and thinkers to express themselves in creative, imaginative, passionate, and political ways and I am beyond excited to help give a platform for non-Asian American POC students as well,” Guralnick wrote. “I hope that in reviving this publication for students of color it not only gives space to create on paper, but also spurs discussions for how we can transfer creativity into action; maybe creating more student of color spaces like Ankhsgiving that give platforms for student of color artists.”

Important to The Ankh’s Editors-in-Chief is making sure that the publication is revived in collaboration with other groups, without stepping on the toes of other clubs. Pimentel emphasized the importance of having a humble reentry where the group can support other magazines without overpowering or speaking over them. 

“I think it will be exciting to see how The Ankh supports other publications such as Utterances and Sazón, and what The Ankh is trying to say to Wesleyan and to the world,” Pimentel wrote.

The theme of the first post-pandemic issue of The Ankh will be “Symbols of life.” Pimentel shared that this was chosen because The Ankh itself is a symbol of life. 

“[T]hinking about everything and everyone that we have lost in the pandemic has made me want to find the seeds that will sprout new yet familiar fruits here,” Pimentel wrote. “I hope that The Ankh transcends itself and becomes not only a space where students of color can collaborate and provide cultural nuances to the same topic but that it also jumps out of the page as it has often done with its events, where those events are places for joy and fun and just a space to be us for the sake of being us.” 

Pimentel, De La Cruz, and Guralnick encourage all interested students to get involved with The Ankh and are eagerly anticipating the publication of their first issue post-pandemic next semester.

“I just want all of us to feel love, to feel joy, to feel. And to do it together,” Pimentel wrote. “Art, community care, and activism all require the care of choosing others. I would like The Ankh to be a space where the beauty of our art and of the work we do come from the fact that, intrinsically, even when Wesleyan feels alienating, we are choosing each other.”

Kat Struhar can be reached at

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