In the copious amounts of spare time that I like to pretend I have, I recently found myself looking through some old Troubadours, which used to be called The Baronette.
In the very first issue of the student newspaper, published in February 1947, I read about how Father Egan called upon students to form a Press Club to create a university publication that would inform the student body and record the university’s history. Interestingly enough, this was the first official club to be formed at this school.
Flipping through other old issues published in the 60s, 70s and 80s, I was surprised to see that, as it says in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “there is nothing new under the sun.”
Back in the days of mix tapes and typewriters and locomotive trains — well, maybe not that far back — there were students at Franciscan complaining about the very same things students spend far too much time grumbling about now.
Editorials and columns were full of comments on bad food in the cafeteria, arguments about charismatics versus traditionalists and discussions of the age-old question: does student government actually do anything?
Apparently, fiction and poetry used to be a big thing in the newspaper. I read a story written about a bumbling male too nervous to ask his crush on a date. In a major plot twist (spoiler alert), he ends up getting run over by her car. A shocking end, truly, but it’s nice to know the dating culture really hasn’t changed that much in the last 40 years.
I found a letter to the editor bemoaning one-sided reffing at intramural games and another one whining about the frigid temperatures in the library.
But the column that particularly caught my attention as still relevant to the campus community today was a letter from the editor October 19, 1976, titled “We need each other.”
In this letter, the editor of The Baronette calls upon the student body to support its school newspaper.
“I would like to publicly, on behalf of the editors and staff, thank everyone for their compliments and support,” the editorial reads.
It continues, “Most of the long hours are put in by the editors, but we cannot be in four places at once trying to report on everything that happens. This is where student input is needed.”
The editor expresses his frustrations with poorly attended staff meetings and says, “The students may be enjoying The Baronette, but they’re not helping to keep it alive.”
If no action was taken on the part of the student body to lend support, the editor darkly hinted at a dissolution of the newspaper. Luckily, that never actually had to happen, and we still exist today.
While I do not think we are in such desperate times as this 1970s editor found himself facing, I do fully support his sentiment when he acclaims the newspaper as the voice of the university and requests the assistance of every student, not just newspaper staff, to contribute toward its success.
To echo his closing sentence, it is up to the students now to once again use The Troubadour as their voice.
So how can you do that? There’s a lot of ways you can help make The Troubadour better than ever, and I’m here to throw a few ideas at you.
First of all, read it! Easy enough.
Next step: if you see something on campus or in The Troubadour that you are outraged at or inspired by, tell us about it. Write a letter to the editor.
Believe it or not, we love controversy and take insults with alarming complacency. Working in the news industry, you need a thick skin. So bring it on.
Instead of besmirching the Troubadour to your friends and complaining about what we do or do not do, tell us about the problems you have with us. Maybe we can fix them. We’ll at least print them.
You will make our day if you write us a complimentary letter. You will make our day even more if you write a scathing letter, because then we can hang it with the other hate mail in our office.
Do you think you can write a better story? Show us! You can be a staff writer or apply to be a columnist and make your opinion known. You can literally write on any topic you choose; we have to hire you first, though.
Just like the university, the newspaper is celebrating 75 years. Let’s not let it end at 75. The Troubadour is how we are recording our school’s history. In 30, 40, 50 years, someone else is going to be looking through Troubadours from the 2020s. They may laugh at some stories, use others for research projects or maybe just observe with a sigh that there really is nothing new under the sun.
If nothing else, these newspapers remind us that many decades ago, there were young people at this same university doing the very same things we do now. Yes, a lot of things have changed since then; we don’t use typewriters or ride the locomotive train anymore. But at the heart of it, where it really matters, we’re all just college students who are trying to live our own story. Help the Troubadour tell those stories for future generations to learn from.