Collegian continues 131-year-old legacy, tradition

Nigh upon 131 years ago, The Collegian became a staple organization at South Dakota State University.

The first issue was published Jan. 31, 1885.

Upon its founding, the newspaper was first called the College Sheaves. It was a monthly publication led by then Editor-in-Chief E.A. Anderson and published by the students of the Dakota Agricultural College. A three-month subscription to the paper was 25 cents and single copies could be purchased for 5 cents.

The front page of the College Sheaves paper featured a salutatory stating, “The people of Dakota have favored us by establishing the Dakota Agricultural College for our benefit, we feel it our duty to do all in our power to help build it up and make it one of the leading colleges of the Northwest — consequently this paper. We know that we have quite a task to perform, as our school is young, small, and inexperienced in newspaper publishing; nevertheless we will endeavor to carry out our banner unfurled…”

The rest of the first edition included an agricultural report for December 1884 stating that the average of corn per acre in the United States was 26 bushels; an article reporting on smut, a disease of wheat and an update on how the Dakota Agricultural College was moving along. It also included a Local Notes section including announcements such as: “This cold, windy weather makes it very inconvenient for students attending college,” “Quite a number of our students are absent on account of measles in their homes” and “Miss Eva Pool has been absent for a few days, being slightly indisposed. Miss Eva is a bright student and we miss her.”

The Collegian has changed its publication name multiple times over its more-than-a-century span. 

The Sheaves later changed its name to the Dakota Collegian in April 1885. The name was changed again to the South Dakota Collegian by the beginning of the school year in 1891. By the summer of 1893, the name was changed to The Industrial Collegian, publishing twice a month and selected twice as the best all-around college paper in the North Central Press Association Conference. The newspaper changed again to the South Dakota Collegian in 1941, changed to the SDSU Collegian February of 1969 and made its final name change in March of 1978 to what it’s now known as, The Collegian.

A number of important events were covered under The Collegian throughout its history including when Sen. Ted Kennedy made a visit to campus during his 1968 presidential campaign, coverage of World War I when Hobo Day was canceled for the war effort and coverage of the very first Hobo Day celebration in 1912.

The Collegian has received numerous awards for its coverage over campus, local, state and national topics.

In 1975, The Collegian won a Pacemaker, a national award given by the Associated Collegiate Press. The Collegian was a nominated finalist for the Pacemaker again in 2007. The most recent Pacemaker recognition was a nomination for “Design of the Year Award” individual award to current Senior Visual Editor Katie Gebauer. She will attend the awards ceremony Oct. 22 to see if she won.

The paper was given the Mark of Excellence award by the Society of Professional Journalists in 2007. Again that year, the South Dakota Newspaper Association gave The Collegian the 2007 Eagle Award for “Protecting the People’s Right to Know” after the paper’s staff filed a lawsuit against the South Dakota Board of Regents.

The Collegian sued the SDBOR after Robert T. “Tad” Perry, former executive director of the SDBOR, said members of the media were not allowed to attend open forums for the hiring of former SDSU President David Chicoine.

Numerous other awards for individual news and feature stories, editorials and photographs have been awarded to Collegian staff members from the Society of Professional Journalists and other organizations. The Collegian has also won include the Golden Apple for outstanding education coverage in press, radio and TV, given out by the South Dakota Education Association.

Today, The Collegian runs 12-14 pages and is free to students, faculty and community members. Online content is published each Wednesday at sdsucollegian.com. Staff members regularly enter the paper in national and regional college newspaper contests.

The paper’s newsroom is in the Lower Level of the Student Union. The Briggs Library contains Collegian microfilm between 1885 and 2013.