The start of USU Student Media began with Student Life, a literary arts magazine created fourteen years after the land-grant institution, the Agricultural College of Utah, was founded in 1888. The Agricultural College of Utah was part of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act that President Abraham Lincoln signed during the Civil War. It was later renamed the Utah State Agricultural College in 1929, becoming Utah State University in 1957.
In November of 1902, the first issue of “Student Life” was published for the students of the Agricultural College of Utah, now known as Utah State University. A twenty-page paper, “Student Life” was dedicated to showing and expressing the interests of the College.
A constitution for Student Life was created, and then adopted on October 25, 1902. It included the publication details of Student Life, the Editorial and Business Management, Elections, and Adoption and Amendments. The constitution could only be ratified by a majority of the student body. Amending the constitution was pretty simple–it could be amended any time by a two-thirds vote of the paid subscriptions, with approval from the faculty.
“Student Life” ran every third Wednesday of each month during the school year, from October to November. It included six departments: Editorial, Literary, Student Affairs, Department Notes, Locals, and Alumni and Exchanges.
The staff of “Student Life” was comprised of a Board of Editors which included the editor-in-chief, an associate editor, live assistant editors, and two faculty advisors appointed by the president.
At the beginning, the editor-in-chief, the associate editor, and the business manager for each year were chosen by voters from a list of faculty-presented nominees.
The editor-in-chief chose the assistant editors from a list of approved names from the faculty. The assistant editors, assisted by the associate editor and assigned by the editor-in-chief, was assigned to departments, to revise all the proofs, and to supervise over the publication.
The business manager was responsible for publishing, contracts, and obtaining all subscriptions and advertisements. They were “responsible for the quality of printing and for the general appearance of the paper.” They were also charged with the responsibility of making an itemized statement of all receipts and expenditures. This statement was submitted to the faculty committee on publications.
Every third Tuesday of April was the annual meeting where the election of the editor-in-chief, associate editor, and the business manager for the upcoming year was discussed. One of the advisors was required to be at this meeting. If one of the above positions mentioned were vacant, the advisors arranged a special election. Only paid subscribers for the current year were allowed to vote at elections.
Three years later, in 1905, an editorial was published in Student Life regarding enrollment and subscriptions. According to the Student Life records, there were only 500 students enrolled with a subscription list below 100. This editorial confronts a problem that can be seen today amongst the student body, a problem that doesn’t belong to the paper, but the student body, “Get awake and think for thirteen minutes that you belong to the institution, that you are occupying a position in the state won for you by student bodies worthy of the school. Get into the public life, subscribe for the college paper. Try at least to be college men and college women.” The editorial then gives an ultimatum, “Try these and if they are not worth while, let us abolish the college paper, cut out what little college atmosphere there is left and drop in line with the other ‘feeders’.”
Just a year later, Student Life encountered another problem. Funds. In an editorial written in the October 1906, it is written that Student Life is more poor than in 1905, though the paper will be printed by the same people, “Financially, we are respectfully pauperish.” The editorial calls for the cooperation of students and faculty in the form of subscriptions to prevent “any particular anxiety.” It argues that “There is no reason why every student should not contribute his little dollar.”
Aside from finances, the editorial addresses a problem mentioned back in 1905–literary needs, “Get in and do something for your paper . . . You will be benefitted more by doing something original once in awhile, than by simply memorizing what others have incorporated into the textbooks.”
This editorial also addressed where Student Life is as far as advertising, “Most of the business people in town have responded liberally to our call for advertisements, but there are few who are nursing a grouch and refuse to give us our patronage.”
The Utah Statesman
In 1978, after seventy-six years, Student Life received a new name, The Utah Statesman. Laurie (Turner) Snow was the editor of The Utah Statesman from 1978-1979. According to her, 1978 was also the first year that students had a full-time advisor for the paper. That advisor, Larry Baker, along with Snow made the decision to change names in order to provide “more professional news work,” an avenue for journalism students to practice journalism, and for the paper to be taken more seriously.
Alumni were not happy with the change arguing that the name “Student Life” was tradition. Other than that there was not a lot problem with the name change.
Originally, Snow was part of Student Life as a freshman. She was assigned to cover “Man on the Street” where she would ask various students a question. Their response as well as their photograph would be printed in the paper. About this assignment Snow said, “We had a lot of fun with that.”
Putting together a newspaper back then is much different than 2018. Snow said that they had, “old decrepit computers with keys that were stuck and didn’t work. There were also round black AP wire machines where we could go and rip off stories. That was the connection to the outside world. We would go to the library and look things up in books or magazines.”
Looking back and comparing journalism then and now Snow said, “In my opinion, there was much more of a journalistic commitment to objectivity and fairness. We were taught that in journalism school so much. Opinions were reserved for the editorial papers . . . The industry has changed dramatically.”
Adviser Larry Baker eventually left Utah State University for Southern Utah University. His replacement, Jay Wamsley, took over in the 1980s and retired after giving more than 30 years to The Utah Statesman in 2013.
Click through the interactive timeline to see more highlights of Student Life/The Utah Statesman history.
USU Student Media
The student media program at Utah State University has undergone many changes during the past six years. Longtime adviser Jay Wamsley retired after more than three decades. The Statesman and Aggie Radio were moved under the leadership of the Student Involvement and Leadership office. The two joined forces to become USU Student Media. As part of that move, in 2013, the Statesman office relocated to a much smaller office in the northwest corner of the TSC’s third floor. That move proved to be short-term, however, as the Statesman and Aggie Radio moved into the new Student Media Center on the first floor of the TSC this January 2017.
“History and Traditions.” Utah State University. Utah State University, n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2017.
Life, Student, “Student Life, November 1902, Vol. 1, No. 1” (1902). The Utah Statesman. 11. http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/newspapers/11
Life, Student, “Student Life, November 1905, Vol. 4, No. 2” (1905). The Utah Statesman. 48.
“The Outlook,” Student Life. October 1906, Vo. 5, No. 1. 16-17. Print.
Pratt, Morgan. “Aggie Morning Word Podcast: Laurie Snow Turner named the Statesman and bleeds blue.” Aggie Morning Word. PodBean. March 20. 2017. http://www.usu.edu/radio/index.php/aggie-morning-word-podcast-laurie-snow-turner-named-the-statesman-and-bleeds-blue/