COLLEGIAN MARKS 125TH YEAR OF PUBLICATION

by Jeff Dodge

COLLEGIAN MARKS 125TH YEAR OF PUBLICATION

PAST EDITORS SHARE THEIR FAVORITE MEMORIES OF STUDENT NEWSPAPER

CSU’s student newspaper, The Rocky Mountain Collegian celebrated its 125th birthday this year. Started in December 1891, the Collegian is the oldest continuously published college paper in Colorado and one of the oldest in the West. To commemorate the anniversary, several past Collegian editors have been sharing some of their favorite memories of their time at the paper.

Linda Shapley, managing editor of The Denver Post, was Collegian editor in 1990-91. She recalls a steer escaping from a livestock barn and crashing through a glass wall at Edwards Hall. Chased by campus police, the steer ran down a hallway and into a student’s room, where the officers trapped it by closing the door.

“Of course, it trashed the dorm room,” Shapley recalls with a laugh. “I had a friend who was an R.A. in Edwards who called me, and I ran over there to get the story. It took them another three hours to get that steer returned, because it got loose again. That always will be one of my favorite stories.”

The coverage earned the Collegian a national award for spot news.

Floyd and Connie Shoemaker, editors of the Collegian during the 1955-56 school year, remember when a student coming down a stairway too fast fell through a glass wall, cutting himself badly. A CSU administrator had contracted with a friend – a local funeral home owner – to provide ambulance service to the campus.

“So, the funeral home sent a hearse with a driver, who brought a bunch of propaganda about the funeral home and began passing it out to the students who were gathered around,” Floyd remembers. When the Collegian reported what happened, the CSU administrator and funeral home owner were incensed – the latter reportedly threatened to sue

When the Collegian won an award for general excellence among college papers in the Rocky Mountain region, the paper’s adviser drove the Shoemakers to Brigham Young University to accept the honor. It had been a banner year; the couple had just gotten married in September 1955.

“We had to cut our honeymoon short to get back to campus and put the welcome edition out,” Floyd recalls with a chuckle.

Before becoming Collegian editor, one of the first big stories that Gary Kimsey covered when he joined the paper in the tumultuous, protest-filled spring of 1970 was the fire that gutted Old Main, the first building constructed at CSU in 1878. He recalls that conspiracy theories abounded about the cause of the blaze – some thought it was activists who drove up from Denver, others posited that the CSU administration wanted to collect insurance money for the dilapidated structure.

“I don’t believe that at all, but it was one of the theories at the time,” Kimsey says. “I started my career under fire because of all these protests; we were localizing national stories. There was a massive outcry against the Vietnam War, and there were issues around civil liberties and the rights of women and minorities. Horace Greeley believed in printing news and raising hell, and I operated under that.”

Shapley says she owes much to her time at the paper.

“Being at the Collegian was probably one of the smartest things I ever did,” she says. “That’s where I got my journalism foundation. It was the place where I first felt that this was my calling.”

Collegian Covers 1891-1915

EXCERPTS FROM THE FIRST EDITION OF THE COLLEGIAN, 1891

“The attendance at the College is rapidly increasing. There are at present 124 students enrolled.”

“Be a man. Don’t borrow your neighbor’s paper, but buy one for yourself.”

“Frank DeVotie, while skating on Sheldon’s Lake Thanksgiving Day, broke through the ice. He did not take dinner with his friends as was intended.”

“A student became very inquisitive as to the number of demerit marks he had, and asked a member of the Faculty. His case was investigated and it was found that he had the requisite number for suspension. Advice: ‘Be quiet; black marks do not evaporate.’”

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