PROVO, Utah (ABC4) – It’s not surprising that outsiders looking in at BYU see a relatively homogeneous group of college students. This student-led publication shows how that assumption is far from the truth.
Prodigal Press is a volunteer-based “media collective” based in Provo “with an emphasis on personal narratives and local art”. Their primary output is a zine that focuses on columns from “unheard voices and perspectives on issues like inequality, community, and religion.”
The zine was founded by a variety of undergraduate students at Brigham Young University and is designed to publish columns and stories generally outside of the BYU/Provo mainstream. These primarily include pieces that aren’t a good fit for official BYU platforms because of their provocative takes and marginalized voices.
Gracia Lee is a designer at Prodigal Press, and told ABC4 that she hopes that Utahn’s won’t think of Prodigal Press “as a bunch of jaded BYU students.” Instead, Lee hopes that they will understand Prodigal Press’ objective to make BYU and Provo a better, more inclusive space. “It can be discouraging to go to BYU and not feel like you fit into a religious or political mold,” says Lee, continuing that her work at Prodigal Press helps her feel like she is bringing diversity to Provo.
Lee helps manage Prodigal Press’ printed publications as well as their web design. She said she loves working with a group of “incredible and talented people.” She is especially proud of a recent Prodigal Press article on the availability of birth control for BYU students and faculty cleverly titled “An Issue of Blood” in reference to the New Testament.
Lee mentions how Prodigal Press had big plans to “bring people together” in Provo in a more literal way that were stymied by the COVID-19 pandemic. This has given her and the rest of the team time to really focus on Prodigal Press as a publication.
Prodigal Press is pretty edgy for Provo. Their 2nd issue’s headlining piece is titled “You Can’t S**t With Us,” in which columnist MJ Harris writes about transgender peoples’ relationship to public restrooms, especially on BYU campus. Another issue features a cover featuring an article titled “How to Be a Fence-Sitter,” in which Luka Romney discusses “not picking a side” between their non-normative gender identity and relationship with the LDS Church.
Every year, Prodigal Press publishes a “Year in Review,” which includes selected articles from the previous year. Their 2020-2021 issue is described as a “testament to the diversity of thought and talent in the BYU community. The 2022-2021 issue is set to be published sometime in late April, 2022.
Lee comments on the “Year in Review” by saying that it features “all the best articles we put together from the last year and is designed by really talented designers who are on the team as volunteers during the busiest time of their college semester.” The “Year in Review” edition will be available free on the Prodigal Press website and its social media, but those wanting to contribute financially to the organization can purchase a physical copy.