Campus newspaper is still reporting campus news after 75 years

Veronica Novotny

Happy birthday, Troubadour! The campus newspaper has been around since the beginning: February 1947. This is pretty unsurprising because everyone knows how vital a campus newspaper is to student life, not to mention fascinating, right?

Recently I’ve been digging around our archives and pulling out gems. One of my favorite finds is a front page feature on John Maltese, founding editor of the newspaper, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its first issue.

According to the print dated April 7, 1972, Maltese helped to release the first issue of the campus newspaper on Feb. 13, 1947.

Rose Carrig, the writer who featured Maltese, wrote, “It cost 15 (cents), contained 6 pages, and was staffed by 20 students and 2 moderators.” Note the difference in AP Style 50 years ago!

Maltese was an “ex-G.I., ambitious to become a writer. To achieve this goal he joined the Press Club, the first organized club on campus.”

This club started the Baronette, which was later renamed the Troubadour in 1980.

Like the college itself, the newspaper changed its name by a student body vote in light of its blossoming Catholic identity as Franciscan University of Steubenville under the presidency of the Rev. Michael Scanlan, TOR.

So where does the name Troubadour come from, anyway? Considering we’re Franciscan University, it obviously comes from the man, the myth, the legend: Francis of Assisi, who called himself “a troubadour for the Lord.”

Before his conversion, Francis was obsessed with the trope of being a traveling troubadour who would serenade the streets of Assisi with romantic poetry. When he fell for Lady Poverty, he became a troubadour for the Lord instead, singing the Lord’s praises in hymns like “The Canticle for the Sun.”

The December 11, 1947, print has the headlines: “College observes anniversary” and “Successful first year completed December 10th.”

According to a print of the Baronette from a few years later, dated June 7, 1951, a total of 61 students graduated at the university’s second-ever commencement 71 years ago.

1951 saw “a slight drop in enrollment” for a total of 502 students for the spring semester. To put that number into perspective, last semester the university has 588 new students alone, and this semester there are 2,202 full-time undergraduate, on-campus students and 3,175 students total with graduate, part-time and online students. 773 students will graduate May 14, 227 of which are getting master’s degrees.

For the 25th Commencement in 1974, the College of Steubenville graduated 233 students, according to a May 2 print of the Baronette. The Baronette further published the names of all 33 students graduating with honors. Who thinks we should do that today? Let me start listing all the names from last semester’s dean’s list … According to the registrar’s office, 193 undergraduates are graduating with honors.

Here’s a few other interesting things I found from days gone by:

Interestingly to me, an editor, the university hosted a press clinic in 1952 for 85 editors and writers of local high school newspapers. I’m pretty sure that’s five times as many students as would show up for a press clinic today, considering how hard it is to hire new Troubadour staff.

In the same 1952 print, there’s a headline that reads: “Student Council Plans ‘Anti-Littering’ Drive For Campus Cleanliness,” and the story outlines how the group that was later renamed FUSG was being encouraged by administration to campaign for campus cleanliness.

Nothing has changed much since the ‘50s, except that SWOP workers with Physical Plant and Custodial take out the trash for us daily, and still, FUSG has to host Hilltop Cleanup to pick up after students. In fact, they hosted one just this past Saturday, April 23!

Speaking of FUSG, I found an editorial from 1976 entitled: “Where Are You, Student Gov’t?” Where are you, indeed? Allow me to quote an excerpt:

“What is Student Government doing? Other than handing out allocations to the organizations in record time and electing a Freshman Representative, what has Student Government done? Half the semester is gone, and no one on campus, especially commuters and including the representatives themselves, seems to know what is going on. Has Student Government become as secretive as our National Government?”

Next, there was the legendary streaker of 1974, who streaked through the “College Center” (at the time a one-story building) in just a gorilla mask, sneakers and yellow socks — and later submitted a letter to the Troub himself, detailing his actions. Please, please, please don’t make me regret sharing this story, and let this event remain in the past, I’m begging you.

The September 1, 1989, issue has three stories on the front page. “Scanlan, Ottenweller among Youngstown 47” by Patti Courter outlines how Scanlan was arrested with nearly four dozen pro-lifers following a non-violent protest outside a local abortion clinic.

“We ground all our students in a pro-life commitment and out of that came this action,” Scanlan said in a quote. “I went to support (the students) and to give them pastoral care.”

Here’s an excerpt from the second story, “Parking situation changing” by Lisa Cartin: “Growth. Change. Expansion. Development. These words describe pretty accurately the state of Franciscan University each fall semester. And as our enrollment continues to grow, so does our need for parking spaces.” Sound familiar?

And thirdly, “Cafe to be expanded further” by Linda Guitar outlines a $900,000 project to expand Antonian Hall. This one definitely sounds familiar.

And finally, here is one editorial I found in a decades-old print, but could have been written yesterday:

“We, as editors, question various actions taken both by security and by certain individuals in the past few weeks. We would like to know what role the security police perform on campus.”

Students have the same complaints now as we did a year ago: the irrelevance of student government, complaints against campus security, complaints about caf food and general moralizing about Catholic culture.

At least campus is consistent, even if the headline “Eight Students Initiated Into Alpha Phi Delta At Weekend Ceremonies” has now become epically irrelevant (Feb. 19, 1951). Could you imagine if the Troub reported every time a household inducted new members? Even better, could you imagine a time when the Delts could publicly initiate new members? 2022 could never.

All in all, the history of Franciscan is pretty cool, and I highly recommend checking it out sometime. You could start by reading the book on households by Regina Doman and the Rev. Gregory Plow, TOR, or by scouring Troub archives either online or in print. It’s absolutely vital to stay rooted in our traditions as a university — but let’s not repeat the streaker incident.

I’ll close this behemoth by saying I am so proud of my staff for all the work they have put in this year and all the growth they’ve done. My predecessor Maltese urged the newspaper staff “to have an inquisitive mind and to always be curious. Any news is topic matter for a story. … It’s more important today than it was 25 years ago both to the college and to the community, for it’s the only link between the two.”