VT in April 1970

To assess the Virginia Tech campus in April of 1970, I looked at both the mainstream student paper, The Virginia Tech, as well as the underground newspaper, Alice. Comparing the content of both, I saw that the student population was becoming increasingly political and willing to discuss issues on the campus and in the nation. Looking at two articles from The Virginia Tech, and one article from Alice, it is clear that the underground paper is much more radical and uncensored, and it tends to focus on nationwide issues. While The Virginia Tech focuses more on campus-wide issues and is clearly less radical, the rhetoric its student writers use along with the campus issues it details makes it clear that, as a whole, students at Virginia Tech were more actively engaged in the issues that affected them.

One article in The Virginia Tech titled “Special SGA Executive Report on Honor Court” uses political rhetoric to call attention to the importance of having an honor court. It asks its readers questions like: “How can we condemn those who go to war for power or esteem when we condone the cheat who seeks the added praise a higher grade brings?” And: “How can we shout for honesty in personal and governmental relationships when we allow the thief and liar to travel in our midst?” This wording likens the campus issue of honor violations to larger issues that the nation was dealing with, suggesting the students felt that issues on their campus reflected these bigger issues.

Another noteworthy artifact from the newspaper is the article titled “Birth control clinic ok’d by Senate appropriation,” which details the “major accomplishment at Tuesday’s Senate meeting”  of the passage of a proposed budget by the SGA that appropriated $6000 to create a birth control clinic on campus. This clinic, that “would offer free service to all registered Tech students, both male and female,” suggests that students were concerned with increasingly progressive issues like access to birth control. This article also goes on to note that “the senate also lent its support to the so-called “peace strike” set for April 15… [which] is actually a teach-in concerning the war in Vietnam,” showing that the student body was actively concerned with nationwide issues like the war.

In addition to the mainstream student newspaper, I took a look at the April issue of Virginia Tech’s underground newspaper, Alice. Compared to the mainstream paper, Alice is much more political and uncensored. It is more radical, angry, and sarcastic. However, both papers talk about similar issues, such as environmental problems and proposed teach-ins. This shows that the Virginia Tech student population as a whole was becoming more political rather than just the radical Left.

I was also surprised by how uncensored articles in the underground paper are.  An interesting artifact from Alice, for example, details how to plant a garden of marijuana. Titled “Spring Planting,” this article calls on members of the Corps, writing: “Stimulate Vietnam better. Get stoned first!” Alice also seems to focus on nationwide issues more so than smaller-scale campus issues, suggesting a different motivation and target audience from The Virginia Tech.

Both the artifacts in The Virginia Tech as well as those in Alice suggest a much more political campus in 1970. The similarities the student writers make between issues on campus and issues in the country suggest students at Tech saw the campus as a miniature version of the nation. One in which they could express their opinions and frustrations, and one in which they could make real change. Calling for an honor court, appropriating funds for birth control, and participating in teach-ins happening on campus, these students were taking action. Though The Virginia Tech is obviously less radical and more censored than Alice, both still seem to suggest that students were frustrated with the country, were becoming more willing to express their opinions on campus issues, and were more inclined to support progressive issues like access to birth control.

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