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Vassar Insider Gains Some National Recognition

One of Vassar’s newest student publications won two national awards this month at the Associated College Press convention in Washington, DC. Vassar Insider, formerly known as The Vassar Political Review, was one of 40 student publications to be named a finalist for the ACP’s top award, the Pacemaker. The online magazine, launched in 2017, covers campus, local, state and national politics and culture.

Vassar Insider also won a Best of Show award as one of the top online publications among four-year colleges with 10,000 students or less. The awards were announced during the four-day conference October 31-November 3.

The staff of Vassar Insider, formerly Vassar Political Review.Photo: Karl Rabe

Founder and Editor-in-Chief Andrew Solender ’20, a political science major from New York City, said he and the rest of the staff were honored to have received the national recognition. “I actually think we’ve gotten much better since I submitted our work for this contest,” Solender said. “We’re more well rounded and we’ve really ramped up our content.” Solender is the lone remaining member of the original staff of five, but it has grown to 15 this year.

While he describes himself as a political liberal, Solender says one of the magazine’s core tenets is to accept commentary from across the political spectrum. He said the magazine defended conservative Cornell Law School Professor William A. Jacobson when some groups on campus protested his pending lecture on campus last year. “We felt he was unfairly branded as a ‘neo-Nazi’ – for starters, he’s Jewish – and his talk turned out to be, if anything, pretty boring,” he said.

Solender, who formerly wrote for The Miscellany News, said he left the newspaper over some philosophical disagreements but emphasized he still admires much of the work it does. Realizing that he would not immediately receive any funding for his new publication from the Vassar Student Association, Solender paid for the online domain name out of his own pocket. But he noted that unlike The Miscellany News, which has significant printing costs, “an online publication is incredibly cheap to run.” The publication’s entire budget is less than $500, and it does receive some funding this year from the VSA.

Solender says his analytics show that Vassar Insider has had more than 52,000 unique views since it was launched, including more than 8,000 for its interview with Michael Wolff ’75 following the publication of Wolff’s blockbuster book, Fire and Fury, which contained many revelations about the Trump presidency.

Solender said he doubted Vassar Insider would have happened without the backing of President Elizabeth Bradley. “President Bradley has been incredibly supportive from the start,” he said. “I’m certain it could not have been created without her.”

Other members of the staff are: Teddy David ’22, managing editor and treasurer; Julian Aguilar ’23, digital editor; Adam Chapnik ’22, senior politics editor; Alexia Oerter ’21, deputy politics editor; Yinguang Zhao ’23, deputy politics editor; Adam Abadi ’22, deputy politics editor; Alex Wilson ’22, communications officer and senior policy and finance editor; Henry Mitchell ’22, senior policy editor; Eleanor Carter ’22, deputy policy editor; Gina Pepitone ’22, senior campus and culture editor; Sarah Kopp ’22, senior campus and culture editor; Elle Donnelly ’21, deputy campus and culture editor; Ananya Chaudhuri ’23, deputy campus and culture editor, and Adlai Brandt-Ogman ’21, editorial cartoonist.