History in the New U Archives

We don’t know if you know this or not, but our school was essentially a hippie commune at one point. Yeah, UC Irvine (the land of bro tanks, $2 boba and dance crews) was full of hippies. As in there used to be a parking lot where you could park your trailer or RV and live there on the cheap. Try doing that now, and enjoy explaining yourself to the impound lot.

There’s something sacred about a college and its history. If we asked you to imagine a college with a legacy, you’d probably call to mind Harvard and ivy-covered brick buildings and secret societies that produced decades of dead presidents. Or would you think of UCI?

It’s easy to forget that history happens in a place like Orange County. Irvine tends to have a plastic sheen about it — signs apologizing for the inconvenience of unfinished landscaping, the uniform appearance of newer campus buildings and a shopping center across the street that caters more to soccer moms than to students. But our university is an ever-changing, constantly evolving thing.

Here in the New University newsroom, we have archives dating back to October of 1965. Every year in the 46-year history of the New U is kept bound in black books with gold lettering. On slow days in between tasks, we editors wander to them and pick a year at random. We can take a look at the Vietnam War through the eyes of Anteaters in the ’70s or we can see how the writers in the ’80s felt about Reagan whenever we want. But the stories that catch our attention more than outrageously negative reviews of “The Big Lebowski” are the stories about our own campus and the students who came before us.

Throughout every tome, editors lambast or support ASUCI; celebrate incredible sports victories or lament brutal loses; and chronicle budgetary decisions made by regents and profile students of importance. Headlines such as March 4, 1969’s “Science Classes Cut to Discuss Social Implications of Science” and October 27, 1965’s “University Rises from Dust of Irvine Ranch” give us a snapshot of our own history in the broader contexts of our country, culture and city. Oct. 20, 1965’s letter to the editor supporting the Anteater as our mascot and Jan. 26, 1966’s “UC Irvine’s Future Depends Largely on Today’s Activities” (which discusses whether or not UCI should become “another trade school for the major leagues” by turning into a sports-focused university) show us the ancient and still-living spirit of our university.

As editors with our entire university’s history just at our fingertips, we forget that we have been made privy to an amazing, yet untold, story. Anteaters, we do have a legacy, though not one choked by marble statues and abandoned dress codes. And if the archives are any indication, it’s a legacy with a lot of room to grow. Maybe in 20 years, we’ll be able to look back at our school, or our class, and be amazed at what UCI has produced and is still producing.

We’re thankful that our predecessors felt the urge to write and publish and inform. Without the Spectre, Tongue or Anthill (previous incarnations of the New U you all know and possibly dislike today), the student voices of the past may have been lost. Where else would we be able to hear that the Anteater is absolutely crucial as a mascot because it sets us apart from the typewriter of a student who actually helped decide? Where else would we be able to see how liberal little UCI fought against the overwhelmingly conservative county they sprouted up in?

The very first volume of the Spectre complains about student apathy, and the theme continues throughout every bound archive on the shelf. The bound volume that will include this year will contribute to that. If any of you think school newspapers aim to damage their campus, realize that the newspapers are the ones trying to call people to arms by chronicling the victories and tragedies. And to chronicle, you have to care. To be within arms’ reach of the history of our campus is to care deeply.

We sincerely hope that the New U of today and the future contribute to the same causes of the New U of the past — to write, to publish and to inform. And sometimes to poke fun and get away with some saucy stories and rile up our campus.

As students here, our goal is greater. In the words of an anonymous writer in the late winter of 1966: “We hope to follow the same path that we did when we chose our anti-hero mascot. We can be different, can’t we?”

 

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