By Katie Schmitz
“Our newspaper is the oldest in MI,” says Hillsdale College. “False,” says Kalamazoo College.
Hillsdale College is a small liberal arts school located about an hour southeast of Kalamazoo College, in Hillsdale, MI. Since I am not a Michigan native, I have never heard of the school neither, nor have a lot of my Michigander friends.
So when I heard that Hillsdale is claiming to have the oldest collegiate newspaper in the state, I asked, “who?”
I have been spending a lot of this academic year digging through the Index archives. I have become very familiar with the history if the Index and that smell of old newsprint. I found it hard to believe that another school’s newspaper was published before ours, which first went to print November 1877. I thought I should do a fact check on Hillsdale’s claims about their paper, The Collegian.
What I found on The Collegian’s website was the following statement: “Since 1893, The Collegian has delivered local and campus news written and reported by Hillsdale students. We are the oldest college newspaper in Michigan.”
By doing simple math, we know that the Index is 16 years older than The Collegian.
I can understand how maybe when Hillsdale was checking the publication dates of all the other collegiate newspapers in Michigan they may have accidently skipped Kalamazoo College. What baffles me, however, is that Hillsdale also “overlooked” University of Michigan’s paper, The Michigan Daily, which was published three years before the Collegian in 1890.
Attempts to contact the editors of The Collegian for questioning and clarifications have so far been unsuccessful. Thus far, all I have been able to do is passive-aggressively edit their Wikipedia page.
It is clear that The Collegiate is not the oldest paper in Michigan. Although the Index predates it by almost two decades, it would be premature to state that we are the oldest collegiate publication. To make such a claim would take far more extensive research.
However, the Index and the Collegiate are both very old newspapers filled with American history from a liberal art’s college perspective. Both publications should be celebrated for providing student’s with news for over a century.
The Index has changed a lot during its 137 years of publication. But, according to the Staff Editorial published in our first issue, it seems as though our goals have stayed the same:
“The Index for 1877-78 will be, so far as its present editors can make it, all that its name implies. It will in its literary department strive to reflect some, at least, of the culture a college course should give. The articles contributed will be those who are now students in the College, and will be as far as possible on subjects of general interest.
In its news columns it will give full information of the condition, progress, and needs of Kalamazoo College and will be the only reliable source of such information. To the students it will be what each one of them will wish as a memorial in after life of his or her college days. To outside friends, it will be a complete record of the College. To all alumni who retain any interest in their alma mater and the welfare of their former companions, it will be indispensible. The alumni and personal news will be as complete and accurate as the industry and perseverance of our local editor, backed by the staff can make it.
In the editorial columns we shall endeavor to discuss candidly and impartially (discuss them we shall at any rate), all topics of interest relating to the college, its needs, management, and progress; nor shall we omit those topics that are of interest to the student as a student. In short, whatever relates to the College and its students will be considered proper matter for our columns.
These are our intentions: to our readers, we shall leave the decision of how well we carry them out.
That there has long been a felt want of a paper for Kalamazoo College we are convinced; that the Index will supply that want we are confident. The students of Kalamazoo have entered into the enterprise with a zeal that promises success. To the alumni, we turn and ask them if they will as heartily do their share. It seems peculiarly fitting that now, when the interest in the college is increasing, this enterprise for furnishing more accurate and systematic information should be begun. It is the duty of all who have an interest at Kalamazoo to see that it does not fail through want of means.”