Note: This is the second in a five-part occasional series on LSU’s official and unofficial student newspapers, yearbooks, magazines, and literary journals.
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Printed on yellow legal paper, the first and only surviving issue of Agora (undated but certainly from the spring of 1961) revealed a fledgling publication aspiring to address “the more important political, social, and cultural issues of our time.” This determinedly serious political periodical featured articles on American policy in Cuba, the rise of Barry Goldwater, the danger of the John Birch Society, President Kennedy’s relationship with the new Congress, and Christian attitudes on segregation.
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Launched in November 1965 (don’t let the Vol. 3 No. 2 on the cover fool you), The Rub began life as the official publication of the campus Newman Club; however, it effectively dropped that sponsorship for its subsequent issues—something about a spat with the university over soliciting advertising—to become a wholly independent magazine. Far from being a simple club newsletter, The Rub published reasonably high-minded articles on current events, some short fiction, and occasional jabs at the administration. Sharing many of the concerns and opinions of the mid-sixties Catholic Left, its moderation was soon eclipsed by the blatantly partisan papers of the late sixties and early seventies.
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Several former and current students collaborated to produce The New South Quarterly, the only independent effort at a highbrow literary journal, in the autumn of 1967. Although it enjoyed the wholehearted endorsement of accomplished author and LSU English professor, John Hazard Wildman, this journal of poetry, short fiction, and photography lasted for only four issues.
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The first partisan campus newspaper of the tempestuous 1960s came from the Right. Published by the LSU chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative student organization founded in Connecticut in 1960 under the guidance of William F. Buckley Jr., The Collegiate Conscience tirelessly criticized leftist students on campus, defended the ROTC, and condemned the disorder caused by protesters at other universities.
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Edited by law school student and future Louisiana journalistic icon John Maginnis, the irreverently satirical Kiwi ran for eight weekly issues in the fall of 1969. Maginnis had served as editor of the Reveille the previous spring and “Kiwi” had been the title of his regular satirical column. One of the best expressions of liberal opinion at Louisiana State University at that time, Kiwi lampooned basically everything: politics, sex, drugs, religion, Pete Maravich, cheerleaders, the national Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, the Baton Rouge Police Department, Santa Claus … the list goes on. It was everything you’d expect an independent college student newspaper from the sixties to have been—utterly incomprehensible.
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With the demise of Kiwi, a group called the Progressive Students’ Alliance stepped in to publish The Herpeton, LSU’s next left-wing newspaper, apparently in January and February of 1972, although only a couple of issues survive. The Herpeton’s complaints about the Greek monopoly of the campus bus system, its giddiness over an upcoming visit by Ralph Nader, a first-hand account of two bikers nervously stopping for coffee in New Roads (à la Easy Rider), some hand wringing over the “dilemma of the white liberal,” and a narrative about being roughed up by the NOPD during Mardi Gras gave a frank account of liberal thought on campus at the time. It ran for only four issues according to its successor, the Morning Alternate (see below).
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Although aspiring to be a monthly magazine, the first edition of Salmagundi (most likely from September 1972) appears to have been the only issue published. Students would have to make do with stories about the amenities of the student union, the headaches of registration, and incoming system president Martin D. Woodin before seeing off this briefest of periodicals.
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Always on the lookout for volunteers willing to help out but unwilling to give their last names, the Morning Alternate succeeded The Herpeton as LSU’s next liberal rag. A pun on the Baton Rouge Establishment’s Morning Advocate, this more-or-less weekly newspaper explored the gamut of left-wing interests: Watergate, marijuana legalization, civil rights, poverty, streaking, the Athletic Department, the campus police, women’s liberation, American support for dictatorships abroad, big oil, capitalism, and virtually every member of the university administration.
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If the Morning Alternate had an arch-nemesis, it was the right-wing Campus Crier, the second journal from the LSU chapter of Young Americans for Freedom. Its first issue featured an editorial against the campus bus system, an examination of the geopolitics of the Indian Ocean, a plea for more defense spending, and a report on North Vietnamese violations of the Paris Peace Accords. The Campus Crier ran during the spring semester of 1974 then (if you can believe the Alternate) the “Campus Liar” went on hiatus for lack of volunteers and because the editor “has always had a difficult time finding anyone to read his Fascist [expletive deleted].”
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Young Americans for Freedom returned to journalism for a third time when it launched The Jeffersonian in July 1976. With the Vietnam-era disorder long over, the publishers turned to carping about university fees and the SGA, the woes of the Louisiana Legislature, and various national issues like government spending and arms control. Issued once a semester, it doesn’t appear to have lasted beyond the 1976/77 academic year.
Next time: LSU’s unofficial press at the turn of the millennium