Anonymous writers parody student life at Santa Clara
Eddie Solis Jr.
THE SANTA CLARA
April 23, 2015
Placeholder News, a satirical magazine that focuses on Santa Clara, has gained an online presence, causing laughs for some Broncos and headaches for others.
“Our goal is never to actually show things as they are, perfectly and factually,” said Placeholder Head of Operations Sam Clemency, the pen name used by a Santa Clara student. “Our goal is to put (Santa Clara) up to a funhouse mirror that distorts everything.”
Each Placeholder article addresses a topic or event that occurred at Santa Clara and exaggerates it to the point of absurdity, while still leaving students with something to laugh at, feel angered by or think about.
The satirical magazine’s 13 writers and contributors have published over 100 stories since its October 2014 launch, according to Clemency. It features issues of high tuition prices, student apathy and cultural appropriation in party culture, among other topics.
“I think (Placeholder) is a great way for students to engage with issues in a satirical way,” said Jade Agua, program director for the Office for Multicultural Learning.
An article titled “(Multicultural Center) Under Fire for ‘Douchey Frat Boys & Vapid Sorority Girls’ Theme Party” riled up MCC participants and Greek life members when it was first published.
Students, not knowing the site was satirical, were offended that the MCC would be so insensitive; others who realized the joke were glad that Placeholder used their platform to turn the tables and bring up a prevalent issue.
Averaging two thousand hits per week and 200 hits per article, according to Clemency, Placeholder News has found its niche and popularity on campus by making fun of first-year students, Santa Clara’s sports teams, sorority and fraternity members and more.
“I’m totally okay with making fun of Santa Clara people for being privileged,” said Wendy Peffercorn, a pen name for a Placeholder writer.
Students have found the site to be full of spunk and hilarity. Readers excitedly share their favorite stories through Facebook.
“I have only ever heard extremely positive reactions from students about PlaceholderNews,” said sophomore Lyn Ishizaki-Brown.
In contrast to the neutral tone of The Santa Clara, Placeholder can be outrageous with their content.
“There is a degree of civility and respect with The Santa Clara, knowing how everything they publish is going to be,” said Clemency. “You can’t cuss, you can’t talk about how the bronco statue has a penis, you can’t say that.”
Unlike The Santa Clara, Placeholder isn’t afraid to drop F-bombs, rant about ridiculous on-campus annoyances and get students riled up about various issues at Santa Clara.
Writing behind a wall of anonymity allows Placeholder the freedom to express the frustrations, disbeliefs and opinions of the student body, without fear of being ostracized for taking a stance on a topic or worrying about the backlash.
Writers come up with fake names not just for themselves, but for the subjects of their stories so as to only reference generic personas and not actual individuals.
In a specific case, however, Associated Student Government member Ray Whelan, senator-at-large representing the Leavey School of Business and member of the Student Affairs Committee, felt targeted by the writers of Placeholder. In an article entitled “ASG Student Affairs Committee is ‘Training Program for Future White Collar Criminals,” Whelan was referenced as “Way Rhelan.”
The article satirized the process of on-campus clubs requesting additional funds from ASG. Two other students could be identified by their pseudonyms.
“The biggest thing that offended me is the fact that I actually came to Santa Clara specifically to pursue a business education with an ethical foundation,” said Whelan. “They need to be mindful of the fact that it’s a small campus community, so they have some power to sham and shape people’s reputations on campus behind a wall of anonymity.”
Clemency explained that the site satirizes peer-elected public officials with duties and responsibilities to serve the student body when their actions seem hypocritical. He stressed, however, that the writers never want to come across as harassing or victimizing a student.
“I think that when we reference specific names, that’s not a good thing,” said Peffercorn. “Directly referencing someone is not okay in my book, because someone can look that up online and mistake (the article).”
The Office of Student Life was unavailable to comment regarding the website.
One individual who will probably always be the butt of jokes made by Placeholder is Father Michael Engh, S.J. While he has not read any of the site’s countless articles about him, when asked about being featured so often, he said, “How do I access this, or do I even want to access this?”
Contact Eddie Solis Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.