Six students selected for Occam’s Razor
Student-run publication Occam’s Razor, a compilation of academic papers written by Western undergraduate students, celebrated the release of its sixth volume on Monday, May 23.
Occam’s Razor editor-in-chief Kate Kuntz said 36 students submitted work this year, with six selected to be in the journal.
“All of the submissions we received were absolutely excellent, but these ones, they just stood out,” Kuntz said. “They have that quality of interdisciplinary that we were looking for.”
The six selected papers are:
“The Beneficence of Gayface,” by Tim MacAusland
“Domestic Violence Lethality Assessment Screening,” by Abigail Miracle
“The Historical Biogeography of Phototrophic Consortium,” by Emma Ciechanowski
“Perspectivalism and Blaming,” by Dana Ann
“Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Cause to Treatment,” by Tavleen Aulakh
“Deterministic Chaos: Applications in Cardiac Electrophysiology,” by Misha Klassen
This is the first year Occam’s Razor has received funding from the Student Publications Council; prior to this year it was an Associated Students club. Due to publication council funding, 500 copies were printed for this volume, compared to last year’s 300 copies.
Christopher Patton, faculty adviser for Occam’s Razor, said this is good for the publication’s ability to give students the opportunity to showcase their work.
“Western undergraduates are doing phenomenal work in their courses, and they write these often magnificent papers that they put hours, days and weeks of work into,” Patton said. “They hand them in, they get their A, and then that’s it.”
Essays were evaluated mainly on the ability to carry strong themes throughout and clear, transparent writing for everyday readers to understand, Kuntz said.
One of the essays is by senior Tim MacAusland, titled “The Beneficence of Gayface.” MacAusland identifies as heterosexual and wrote the essay in an English class about queer theory during spring 2015.
Gayface, similar to blackface, is when an individual obviously tries to model their appearance and demeanor to mimic how they feel members of the LGBTQ community act. The concept is often used in acting, and negatively portrays this community as it only serves to fuel stereotypes, MacAusland said.
“[The essay] expressed a part of me, especially since I go into personal experience,” MacAusland said. “It was a product of my experiences in addition to my research, so I had a very emotional attachment.”
In his time at Peninsula College, MacAusland played the role of a man sexually attracted to a horse, played by a fellow male actor, in a play called “Equus.” Despite identifying as heterosexual, performing in “Equus” and acting since age 11 allowed MacAusland to feel comfortable writing about gayface.
“It’s not totally congruous with the binaries of gayface, but the actor playing the horse was a man, a straight man I might add, who was very muscular and in a leotard, and I had to get very intimate with him,” MacAusland said. “As someone who has been heterosexual for my whole life, even though he was playing a horse, I still found a very strong feeling onstage.”
Being published as an undergraduate is important to MacAusland because he said it could lead to more publishing opportunities in the future.
The publication gets its name from the problem-solving principle known as Occam’s Razor, which states the simplest explanation is often the best.
Issues will be available at the magazine racks around campus beginning the week of May 23.