By Emma Yee Yick
115 years ago, three percent of people ages 25+ had received four years of a college education. 115 years ago, a gallon of gas cost 11 cents. 115 years ago, 89.7 percent of Americans were white. 115 years ago, the automobile was still making its debut on the market, phones had yet to be invented, and the idea of the internet was not yet imagined. It was also 115 years ago, that the Barnard Bulletin came into existence. With this triple-digit anniversary comes an entire century’s work of history left to unravel and remember, thought-provoking and smile inducing articles to read, hard hitting journalism to respect, and dedicated, talented, and innovative Bulletin staff to commemorate.
Back in the year 1901, the Bulletin began as a weekly newspaper historically covering a wide range of topics from campus events, announcements, and student life to administrative affairs, the Board of Trustees, and relations with Columbia. According to the Barnard archives, “At the time of its launch, Barnard was among the few colleges in the country to print a weekly newspaper.” Spanning through a time period in which the world saw two terrorizing wars, a series of activist movements and societal changes and technological advances, the Bulletin was there through it all—to bear the bad news, celebrate the good, and challenge the questionable. “The Bulletin is where we look, especially through the 60’s and beyond, for a record of student life on campus,” said Martha Tenney, one of Barnard’s Digital Archivists. This sentiment rings true with many, including Charlotte Vostelic, a graduate fellow working in Barnard’s Archives who sees the Bulletin as “one of the most consistent places to find evidence of student life on campus.”
With the progression of time, it is no secret that the world has changed in such a way that it is nearly unrecognizable from one century to another. The Bulletin’s evolution as both an organization and a publication, right alongside these macro changes, is a testament to the level of journalistic commitment and devotion to Barnard’s ever-changing student body.
The sheer amount of topics covered over the last 115 years by the Bulletin is incredible. One could spend hours perusing the Bulletin’s extensive digital archives and physical glossy pages alike, trying to place oneself in the shoes of the hundreds of writers who came before, and attempting to imagine the impact that each piece must have had at any given time. The Barnard Bulletin has been there to document pressing, momentous moments in the history of Barnard and of the United States. Three headlines caught my eye while digging through these issues. The first, from a 1945 edition of the then-newspaper reads “No Negro Quota At Barnard, Dean Gildersleeve Declares.” This piece was written in response to various student protests on campus and letters written to the administration in regards to the supposed “race-quota” in Barnard’s selection process. The second, written in 1983 upon the change to Columbia’s admissions policy, from an all-men’s university to a co-educational academic institution, reads “Co-education: Little Effect on BC,” and highlights Barnard’s independence and autonomy as an affiliated equal of her older brother, Columbia. The third, following the tragic events of 9/11, perhaps says the most in the fewest words, with large, 36pt white font detailing simply “11 September 2001.” These are just a few of the groundbreaking moments that the Bulletin has documented ever so eloquently, with poise and class. These titles alone speak volumes and while all vastly different, appeal to the importance of the Bulletin to both Barnard campus life and to the greater, global scope. This is a tradition that has been kept alive over these past 115 years, and can be seen most recently in the Bulletin’s covering of issues such as Barnard’s transgender admittance policy and divestment.
At the same time, as society has modernized, the Bulletin has followed suit, now mirroring a plethora of noteworthy editorials after making the switch from a newspaper to glossy pages in 2007, now with sections ranging from Politics and Opinion, to Health and Style and Art and Entertainment. It could be said that the Bulletin has, in the very best of ways, taken on a more personal feel —serving as more than just as a source for campus news and events, but instead, as a lifestyle magazine. Despite being accused of having a “secret feminist agenda” back in 2000—which we take as a compliment more than anything—in 2016, the Bulletin stands, cemented by passion and molded by experience. We remain as committed as ever to publishing content that pushes boundaries and speaks to both the minds and hearts of Barnard students.
So whether the Bulletin is your monthly guilty-pleasure-read between classes, your go-to source for inspiration and motivation, your outlet for occasional writing urges, your link to fond memories of your alma mater, or your second family, join us in raising a glass to the wonderful, Barnard Bulletin. May we, the Bulletin Staff, continue to carry on the legacy and spirit of those who have come before and may we continue to venture into the future by taking risks and adapting for an ever-changing generation of Barnard students.
Modeled by Charlotte Voelkel, photography by Sharon Wu, art direction by Carina Hardy