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LFTE: From creeds to classics: Let’s talk cults

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Collegian | Trin Bonner

Dear readers,

What makes a cult? We’ve all heard the term, whether in the joke “drinking the Kool-Aid” in reference to the Jonestown Peoples Temple movement, talking about a passionate sports team or discussing an irreverent movie that fans know by heart. “Cult” is something that has both positive and negative connotations and a complicated history as well as an unknown future. It’s a complicated and multifaceted term that we decided to explore for this, our final edition of the 2023-24 school year.

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The staff of The Collegian have compiled an edition centered on cults for your consumption. With stories ranging in seriousness and intent, we have chosen to approach this idea of cults with and open and nuanced mindset. While the word “cult” may feel harsh, it actually is inherent of our culture — pun absolutely intended. There is an solemnity to defining a cult.

In one sense, it is a control group with a leader, a space where lifestyles are limited and a set of severe social consequences for not adhering to the rules of the group.

Cults like Love Has Won have garnered national attention for the ways they manipulated the lives of their members. The severity of this should not be ignored, and while the stories that come from these situations may be intriguing, they should be told with the utmost respect for those whose lives were turned upside down by these organizations.

The strange duality of the word “cult” means that it can mean both a controlling and abusive organization as well an aggressively passionate in-group that thrives on specific social symbols. Sports fans, cult classic films and the die-hard followers of several fandoms develop their own cultlike groups that become integral to our identities. Whether serious or not, all of these are interpretations of the word “cult.”

When setting out to create this edition, we wanted to have a balance of both serious and fun topics to bring to readers. Cults are serious and dangerous and potentially life-ruining, but there is a morbid fascination to the world of cults that has, in part, inspired the term “cult classic.”

Cult classics are things that otherwise might not be considered very popular and are somewhat quirky and offbeat. In this edition, we explore things like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the epitome of cult classics, and try to delve into the emotional and personal bonds that make cult classic groups almost like a found family.

As we explore the worlds of cults, fandoms, psychology and both the lasting damage and blinding joy associated with the world of cults and tight-knit, psychologically invested groups, we invite you to approach this subject with kindness, openness and dignity as readers.

For the last time this school year,

The Collegian

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Reach the editorial board at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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About the Contributors
Ivy Secrest
Ivy Secrest, Content Managing Editor
Ivy Secrest is The Collegian's content managing editor. Secrest uses she/her/hers pronouns and has worked for The Collegian previously as a reporter and as life and culture director for the 2022-23 academic year. As a senior in the journalism and media communications department, Secrest enjoys reporting on environmental and social issues with a special interest in science communication. She is president of the Science Communication Club and is pursuing a minor in global environmental sustainability with hopes of utilizing her education in her career. Growing up in Denver, Secrest developed a deep love for the outdoors. She could happily spend the rest of her life hiking alpine environments, jumping into lakes, taking photos of the wildflowers and listening to folk music. She's passionate about skiing, hiking, dancing, painting, writing poetry and camping. Secrest's passions spurred her career in journalism, helping her reach out to her community and get involved in topics that students and residents of Fort Collins truly care about. She has taken every opportunity to connect with the communities she has reported in and has written for several of the desks at The Collegian, including news, life and culture, cannabis, arts and entertainment and opinion. She uses her connections with the community to inform both managerial and editorial decisions with hopes that the publication serves as a true reflection of the student body's interests and concerns. Secrest is an advocate of community-centered journalism, believing in the importance of fostering meaningful dialogue between press and community.
Trin Bonner
Trin Bonner, Illustration Director
Trin Bonner is the illustration director for The Collegian newspaper. This will be her third year in this position, and she loves being a part of the creative and amazing design team at The Collegian. As the illustration director, Bonner provides creative insight and ideas that bring the newspaper the best graphics and illustrations possible. She loves working with artists to develop fun and unique illustrations every week for the readers. Bonner is a fourth-year at Colorado State University studying electronic arts. She loves illustrating and comic making and has recently found enjoyment in experimental video, pottery and graphic design. Outside of illustration and electronic art, Bonner spends her free time crocheting and bead making. She is usually working on a blanket or making jewelry when she is not drawing, illustrating or brainstorming.

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