Call for Zine Submissions Mad Students: Organizing, Community, and Calls to Action

Submission Deadline: May 1, 2021

This Zine invites submissions from Mad* and neurodivergent students that offer creative and critical alternatives to typical approaches to ‘student mental health’ and neurodiversity. It will be organized on the following theme: Mad* student organizing, community building, and associated recommendations for learning and teaching in postsecondary/higher education. 

All current or former students (1) from colleges and universities who (2) identify with madness, addiction, and/or neurodivergence are welcome to submit (see below for further elaboration).

The zine seeks to:

1. Gather examples that inspire, encourage, and support Mad student organizing. 

2. Provoke discussion and exchange on the following questions: 

• What are Mad students doing to advocate, resist oppression, support each other, and/or to build community in colleges and universities? 

• What has Mad student organizing, advocacy, or community meant to those involved? 

• How are Mad students connecting to broader Mad/peer-based movements, communities, and histories beyond “campus”?

• How are Mad students influencing what is taught about mental health, addiction, and neurodiversity and the ways colleges and universities address students’ mental health needs?

• Emerging from these creative alternatives, what inspirations, provocations and recommendations do Mad students have for postsecondary/higher education learning and teaching, professors, staff, and fellow students?

• What do Mad students want the future of learning and teaching to look like? What needs to change?

3. Identify and link Mad student initiatives in different local, regional, national, and temporal contexts. 

4. Create an output that can connect and enrich debates and initiatives in the area of ‘student mental health’ and provide a jumping off point for future initiatives. 

*Mad students and associated initiatives might broadly encompass: 

- Students and student initiatives (formal or informal, past or present) that explicitly self-identify with or use the language of madness and/or neurodivergence (for further elaboration of these terms, see McWade, Milton & Beresford, 2015);

- Student efforts to connect with Mad (psychiatric survivor, mental health disability, service user), harm reduction, and/or neurodiversity social movements, histories, analyses, communities, celebrations of pride; 

- Student activism to advance justice for Black, Indigenous, racialized, queer, and trans students and other marginalized student groups that informs campus conversations on student distress/mental health and proposed remedies; 

- Peer support, mutual aid, and self-help initiatives where students support each other through shared experiences of madness/distress/addiction/neurodivergence, psychiatry/psychology/mental health services and associated trauma/oppression; and

- Other student-envisioned alternatives to dominant approaches that pathologize, medicalize, and/or individualize student experiences of madness, distress, substance use, and/or neurodivergence (e.g., systems advocacy, human rights complaints, policy development, self-advocacy). 


The zine welcomes individual and group submissions in textual (words) and/or visual formats that can be printed. Formats may include, but are not limited to: 

• Creative arts (e.g., collage, comics, graphic design, drawing, painting, photography)

• Literary arts (e.g., dialogues/interviews, essays, lyrics, poetry, reflections, satire, short fiction, theatre scripts)

• Other (e.g., games, lists, puzzles, recipes, quizzes...) 

There is a maximum of 1500 words (for literary pieces), and up to 3 letter-sized pages (for visual pieces), though we especially welcome shorter works! Our goal is to include submissions from a wide variety of individuals/groups and to accept as many as we can.

Authors of accepted pieces will be asked to provide material for accessibility purposes at a later time and/or consulted in the preparation of these components (e.g., alternative text for images).

Potential Examples

We are looking for submissions that cover a variety of topics. Some examples of different forms and content could include, but are NOT limited, to the following:

• A co-created series of photos/drawings reflecting on experiences of Mad student community, with brief accompanying stories/captions; 

• A photo of a sculpture or collage based on your experiences with Mad student organizing;

• A brief article on a Mad student initiative (e.g., a description of how, as a group of students, you came together, what you sought to accomplish, and what this meant to those involved);

• A comic strip / graphic telling of a Mad student initiative you participated in;

• A critique of a student mental health or curriculum initiative; 

• A poem on what you would like educators to learn from your experiences of Mad student organizing/community; and/or

• A short fictional story about on how you hope Mad student organizing will have impacted campus approaches to madness/neurodiversity by the year 2050. 

• For additional ideas, check out Mad Pride Hamilton’s (Canada) “Mad Student” edition of This Insane Life zine. 

Please note that the examples provided here are intended to offer a starting point for submission concepts. Submissions do not need to adhere to these themes or specific mediums.  

Timelines and Submission Instructions


• May 1, 2021: Deadline for zine submissions 

• June 15, 2021: Zine team correspondence with contributors (indication of whether the piece is accepted for publication, any editorial feedback) 

• July 15, 2021: Final confirmation from authors prior to publication 

• Summer-Fall 2021: Open-access zine published and circulated 

Submission Instructions:

• Please submit your work through this online Submission Form. 

• In addition to uploading your submission, you’ll be asked to: 

o Provide a brief bio of up to 100 words (written in the third person) including the name under which you would like to be published (e.g., all or part of your name, a penname, a group name, or ‘anonymous’).

o Complete a brief author form (e.g., indicating the country(ies) where you attended college/university and are currently living, email address for contact purposes, etc.)

• File formats: 

o Please submit visual media as a .jpg, .png, or other non-proprietary image format. 

o Any audio-based media (e.g., YouTube videos) can be submitted by a QR Code that can be printed in the zine.

o We cannot accept physical art pieces – please provide either pictures or a scan of the work in one of the formats described above.

o Please submit text-based pieces as either a .docx or .rtf file.

Project Collaborators and Contact Information

Contact the Zine Team at with any questions, to chat through initial ideas and whether they would fit within the scope of the zine, and to tell us you’re out there (!) so we can connect Mad student initiatives. 

• McMaster University (Canada): Alise de Bie, Vikita Mehta, Dani Pryke, Evonne Syed, Tanisha Warrier, Emunah Woolf

• Gent University (Belgium): Lieve Carette

• Asylum Magazine (UK)

• MadZine Team (UK): Helen Spandler, Jill Anderson

• Ontario Peer Development Initiative (Canada): Tina Behdinan Alise de Bie, Marina Mikhail 

• National Educational Association of Disabled Students (Canada): Kayti Baur, Brady Kroeker

The Zine Team will be conducting some research on the ways in which the zine might support learning and teaching in universities and colleges.

We are grateful for financial support provided by McMaster University: 

• MacPherson Institute’s Student Partners Program

• Student Success Centre’s Career Access Professional Services Program (CAPS)

• Arts Research Board