Editorial Voices, part 2

Hello! I’m Hannah Foltz, class of 2013 and current PhD student in rhetoric at the University of Texas at Austin. This summer, I’m working with the Humanities program and the Archives and Special Collections team. I’ll be scouring the College’s archives, documenting and studying depictions and erasures of marginalized populations in historical materials. Because of my disciplinary background, I am most interested in the archives’ rhetorical role, or in other terms, how the records and materials we deem worthy of saving define the im/possibilities of not only historiography, but also of popular conceptions of identity and belonging. 

Last week I used the 1959–1960 Davidsonian to illustrate how editorial choices play a large role determining what is recorded as public opinion. A college paper, the Davidsionian presents an extreme example of this phenomenon, as the annual rotation of editors produced highly divergent editorial policies from year to year—all under the masthead “The News and Editorial Voice of Davidson College.” 

Masthead of the February 28, 1964 edition of the Davidsonian. The Davidsonian referred to as "The News and Editorial Voice Of The Davidson College"
Masthead of The Davidsonian, February 28, 1964.

As the 1960s progressed, and the newspaper began tackling more controversial issues—particularly civil rights, Communism, tensions in Vietnam, and the college’s ties to the Presbyterian Church—the assumed association between “editorial voice” and popular opinion became a source of anxiety for some. The 1963–1964 paper, under editor David Stitt, had assumed a decidedly liberal stance, reporting extensively on racial issues, endorsing a student-led march in support of the Civil Rights Act, and questioning the school’s religious commitments. 

In the first week of March 1964, David Stitt received the following correspondence from the College president: 

At the recent meeting of the Trustees the following motion was made and unanimously approved: “that the Editors of the Davidsonian be requested to remove from the masthead of that paper the words, ‘the news and editorial voice of Davidson College’ and that appropriate words in substitution thereof be worked out between the staff of the Davidsonian and the Administration of the college.” 

D. Grier Martin

Trustee meeting minutes are not available for review, so perhaps we’ll never know definitively what most irked the Board. However, there are several hints that growing critiques of Christian influence were particularly disturbing to the Trustees, many of whom were ministerial representatives of the Presbyterian Church. The Davidsonian decision came at the same meeting at which the Board had decided to amend, but ultimately retain, the Christian loyalty oath required of tenure track professors, a policy the Davidsonian had strongly opposed (“The Oath,” Davidsonian 7 Feb 1964, p. 2). The retention of the oath came on the heels of a controversial National Review article (only available to institutional subscribers), which suggested that 82 percent of Davidson students experienced “anti-religious reaction.”

Furthermore, many alumni and parents had been upset by a recent campus appearance by Michael Scriven, a philosopher of science who spoke on the “Non-Existence of God” in a discussion sponsored by the YMCA. (“YMCA’s Forum Draws Avowed Atheist, Minister,” Davidsonian, 10 Jan 1964, p.1). The event, which was covered by the Charlotte Observer and the Charlotte News, provoked many devout Christian readers to send letters of protest to the editors of the Observer, News, and Davidsonian (“Area Fundamentalists Protest Athiest’s [sic] Talk,” Davidsonian, 14 Feb 1964, p. 2)

Headshot of Dr. Michael Scriven from an article of The Davidsonian discussing his talk at Davidson entitled "Non-Existence of God"
Headshot of Dr. Michael Scriven, The Davidsonian, January 10, 1964.

Whatever its cause, the Board’s decree led the editorial board to adopt a bulker compromise masthead : The News and Editorial Voice of the Davidson College Student Body. While the change doesn’t appear to have affected day-to-day operations, it underlines the weight carried by the term “editorial voice.” It was hefty enough that it concerned the Board of Trustees, a group with undeniably greater material control over the state of affairs than any editor of the Davidsonian. With one seemingly minor copyedit, the Davidsonian’s constituency was minimized: it was no longer the voice of students, alumni, faculty, administration, and staff. It was simply the voice of the students. 

Masthead of the March 20, 1964 edition of the Davidsonian. The Davidsonian referred to as "The News and Editorial Voice Of The Davidson College Student Body"
Masthead of The Davidsonian, March 20, 1964.

In short, the scramble over the masthead provides yet another example of how rhetorical framing matters. An editor with a wide mandate has the opportunity to dictate how history is recorded. But that power is vulnerable; it is easily hacked away with a few semantic changes. With one stroke of the pen, or in this case, a few strokes on the typewriter, editorial possibilities are foreclosed and administrative power is exerted.

Guest Blogger: Emily Privott “Davidson College Football: Continuing the Tradition”

This past weekend, Davidson College football kicked off its 2018 season with a 34-13 home win over Brevard College. Led by new head coach Scott Abell, the Wildcats were a dominant force on the field, scoring a total of 4 touchdowns in the first half of the game. To celebrate the Cats’ win, here are some odds and ends from football history at Davidson.

Recently, Archives and Special Collections received a donation from an alumna of athletic media guides, ranging from the 1940s to the early 2000s. We are beyond thrilled to add these to our collection! Here are some program covers that caught our eye:

Two men, one in a tweed jacket carrying books, the other in a football uniform holding a football. A gold trophy in the center of the image, with a football player throwing a football. Davidson vs. Catawba. Richardson Field

1954 Football program, Davidson vs. Catawba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A football player stick figure made out of various colored striped ties. Davidson vs. Carson-Newman. Richardson Field. October 18,1958

1958 Football program, Davidson vs. Carson-Newman

 

A boy wearing a football helmet playing a violin. Davidson vs. Lehigh. Richardson Field. November 9, 1953.

1963 Football program, Davidson vs. Lehigh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hopefully, Davidson’s win over Brevard is a sign of good things to come! Let’s take a look back at one of the greatest seasons in Davidson football history! Led by one-season coach Joe Susan, the Wildcats experienced its first and only undefeated season in school history with a 10-0 record. Here are some memories from this perfect season:

A grey t-shirt with black and red text, reading "Davidson Football 2000". Perfect season. Red and black signatures of Senior football players.

T-shirt that reads “Davidson Football 2000”; Signed by the Seniors

 

Black and white image of 23 football players in uniform. 2000 Davidson football Seniors.

2000 Football, Seniors

 

2000 Football Senior Squad
Back row (l-r): Andy Blanton, Mark Rachal, Tee Bahnson, Adam Stockstill, Blake McNaughton
Third row: Bryan Fish, Ryan Crawford, Corey Crawford, Shaun Tyrance, Jerry Saunders
Second row: Marcus McFadden, Andre Carelock, Bo Henderson, Brian Fork, Matt Berry, Brian Bokor
Front row: Dave Parker, Matt Hurt, Dave Rosenberg, Jon DeBord, Ryan Hutto, Freeman Belser, Kevin Strange

For more information about the history of Davidson College football, please visit http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/encyclopedia/football.

If you are interested in seeing any of these artifacts in-person, please check out a recently created display housed at the entrance of E.H. Little Library.