Done in by Justin Timberlake

by Gary Kimsey

The 2006-07 school year was the 115th anniversary of the founding of the Rocky Mountain Collegian—and it seemed ironically appropriate that the newspaper dipped into a smattering of history while reporting and commenting on news at Colorado State University.

It started with a song.

During the previous 2005 football season, a new tradition had slipped into CSU pigskin games: the singing of “Fum’s Song.” It was a “war-cry-like ditty, written to breathe life into CSU’s rivalries,” the newspaper reported.

The song featured a historical sound track by a CSU athletic hero, Thurman “Fum” McGraw, who sang the song during his days as a student and fraternity member as a way to playfully jab at rival schools. He died at age 73 in 2000 after a lifetime of commitment and service to the university.

{Learn more about Fum McGraw.}

In the 2005 football season, CSU fans sang along with the recording of McGraw’s deep, booming voice between the third and fourth quarters while his larger-than-life image was shown on Hughes Stadium’s big screen.

The song focused on such opponents at Colorado College and University of Denver (known as “C.C.” and “D.U.,” respectively, in the lyrics), University of Wyoming and, among others, of course, the archrival University of Colorado.

Fum’s Song used the term “Aggies”—CSU’s long-time nickname—and went like this:

“I’ll sing you a song of college days
And tell you where to go
Aggie’s where knowledge is,
Boulder spends your dough.
C.C. for your sissy boys,
Utah for your times,
D.U. for your ministers,
For drunkards, School of Mines.
Don’t send my boy to Wyoming U.,
A dying mother said;
Don’t send my boy to Brigham Young,
I’d rather see him dead,
But send him to the ole Aggies,
‘Tis better than Cornell,
Before I’d see him in Boulder,
I’d see my son in Hell!”

As the Rams’ season got underway in late August 2006, the Collegian published a banner front-page headline that surprised many readers: “CSU sacks Fum’s Song.” An accompanying article said the athletic department and university administration decided to forego the tune because it was “too offensive to play at games.” Within days, the Denver Post and other media outlets in the state picked up on the story.

Alumni Association president Tom Field, who was also a CSU animal sciences professor, was so upset with the banning of Fum's Song that had his students sing the tune. "Dozens of giggling students sang along, none as passionately as Field," the Collegian reported. "'Western movies have John Wayne,"' he said before the group singing. "We have Fum McGraw."'

Alumni Association president Tom Field, who was also a CSU animal sciences professor, was critical of the banning of Fum’s Song. In his classroom, he had his students sing the tune. “Dozens of giggling students sang along, none as passionately as Field,” the Collegian reported. “‘Western movies have John Wayne,”‘ he said before the group singing. “We have Fum McGraw.”‘ Photo by Tanner Bennett, the Collegian’s assistant multimedia editor in 2006.

“Poking fun at other institutions wasn’t necessarily good for our institution,” the Collegian reported the athletic department’s spokesperson as saying in explanation of why the song was banned.

The Collegian took the athletic department and university to task in editorials.

“So what if our fight song isn’t nice?” one editorial pointed out. “Watching sports without rivalry and trash talking is like eating ice cream filling without the two Oreos on the side. Sure, the cream filling is what you are really after, but it needs those two chocolate wafers on the sides to complete the circle of tasty goodness.”

The Collegian focused hard on covering news related to the ban.

The newspaper reported the Alumni Association’s president, Tom Field, who was also an animal sciences professor, was critical of the ban and had his 100 freshmen students sing the tune. In another article, the newspaper reported on an enterprising student who began printing and selling “Fum You” shirts. She sold more than 60 shirts at $15 a piece within three days.

The Collegian also reported that CSU president Larry Penley did not even know the popular song had been banned.

Finally, the athletic department admitted the ban was its own “business decision” because some supporters did not like it.

“We weren’t aware that appeasing the humorless was part of the CSU athletic department’s business mission,” the Collegian editorialized. “In our naivety, we thought it was to build school spirit, unity between alumni and students and keep our school on the national radar.”

The student government became involved and, in a rare moment of political camaraderie with the student newspaper, actually agreed with the Collegian and passed a resolution to continue the singing of the song during games.

Thurman "Fum" McGraw during a practice at the College Avenue gym during his Colorado A&M days (now CSU).

Thurman “Fum” McGraw during a practice at the College Avenue gym during his Colorado A&M days (now CSU). Photo courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Collegian.

In the meantime, a CSU football star, Kyle Bell, who was sidelined for the season with an injury, started a supportive Facebook page that soon had 2,500 followers, the Collegian reported. “They banned ‘Fum’s Song’ at football games—screw it, we’ll sing it anyway,” Bell’s Facebook site said.

In ensuing games that season, song advocates passed out fliers printed with the song’s words on them. It turned out that students knew what to sing but not when to sing the song, the Collegian reported.

The athletic department decided to broadcast a different tune between the third and fourth quarters when Fum’s Song was traditionally front and center. The replacement was a popular NSYNC song featuring Justin Timberlake, so far from a fight song that it was ridiculous.

In an editorial titled “Touche, athletic department. Touche,” the Collegian all but admitted defeat—a tough solo to sing, pardon the pun—by directing this message to the athletic department:

“Not only did you stymie ‘Fum’s Song,” you added insult to injury by blaring Justin Timberlake in Fum’s stead…and you are supposed to be the ones preaching sportsmanship…If we let NSYNC put the final nail in this tradition, who knows what CSU tradition Mr. Timberlake will kill next.”

Touche. Touche.

9/11 dramatically changed the Collegian and its staff

9/11 dramatically changed the Collegian and its staff

“Had we really known the truth of what was to come, we all probably would have been a lot more scared that day.”

By Maria St. Louis-Sanchez

Until Sept. 10, 2001, The Collegian’s big story of the year was the untimely resignation of the student government vice president.

Then our world changed.

This guest blog is a remembrance written in 2016 by Maria St. Louis-Sanchez, the Collegian's editor-in-chief in the 2001-02 school year. She is now the database editor for the Colorado Spring Gazette.

This guest blog is a remembrance written in 2016 by Maria St. Louis-Sanchez, the Collegian’s editor-in-chief in the 2001-02 school year. She is now the database editor for the Colorado Spring Gazette.

Until then, our generation had lived relatively sheltered lives. We didn’t have to live through the first or second World War or Vietnam with fear of our fathers or ourselves being drafted. The worst we had was the Gulf War in the early ‘90s which lasted less than a year and was in a far away place that didn’t seem relevant to our lives.

On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism and fear were suddenly relevant. Sept. 11 showed our generation that we weren’t as safe as we had grown up to believe, that terrorism can happen at any place, at any time.

We had to deal with that realization at the same time we knew we had to put out a newspaper on one of the most important dates in history. Frankly, I’m glad I had a job to do, because I’m sure it was much easier than spending the entire day watching the same ghastly scenes on television. So we got to work. We skipped class because we couldn’t fathom sitting through lectures instead of putting out the paper.

I invited guest columnists from different perspectives and religions to contribute. We added extra pages without ads so we could run the photos that we needed. We killed the comics page to add in extra stories. Our advisor, Jeff Browne, suggested we
take the rare, but not unprecedented, step of writing a front-page editorial.

News Managing Editor Zeb Carabello summed our thoughts perfectly: “For the first time in our generation, we have been witness to an unfathomable, blatant attack on civilians on American soil, sobering us with concerns about our safety, our stability and our future roles in the world.”

The immediate reaction to 9/11 among CSU students was mixed. Within two days, some students called for declaring war, even though it yet to be known on which country to declae war, while other students held peace vigils, praying and singing "We Shall Overcome and "God Bless America." Photos by Collegian photo editor, Patrick Lehman, provide courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Collegian.

The immediate reaction to 9/11 among CSU students was mixed. Within two days, some students called for declaring war, even though it was yet to be known on which country to declare war. Other students held peace vigils, praying and singing “We Shall Overcome and “God Bless America.” Photos by Collegian photo editor, Patrick Lehman, provided courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Collegian.

Dealing with fears: Usually, the reporters and editors left once their jobs were done, but that day we all waited until the last page was sent late at night. We needed to see the paper through. Then we silently packed our things and walked out, headed to our separate homes to deal with the thoughts and fears we’d been trying to avoid all day.

It would be an understatement to say that day changed the rest of the school year and the way we approached the Collegian. For example, just days before we had considered having a staff T-shirt that somewhat mocked then-president George W. Bush.

But on Sept. 11, as we crammed in a conference room to hear him address the nation, we were all supporters. At that moment, we needed him to know what he was doing.

That school year we were obsessed with national security and probably ran too many national wire stories instead of focusing more on campus issues that our student readership couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.praying_blog-3

Watchdogs: Very soon after Sept. 11, the issues of balancing privacy with national security would start to arise and we had to understand our role of being watchdogs and looking for government overreach, while still being worried about our future and our safety.

For ourselves, we also had to worry about getting jobs in a time of an uncertain economy. I would go on to see several of my talented peers leave the journalism field, both by choice and attrition. I was able to stick it out in journalism, with Sept. 11 marking my first real challenge as a journalist.

I’m glad that young staff didn’t know then that 15 years later—enough time to get married, start a family and change careers—that we were the last generation to grow up in a safety bubble and we’d still be dealing with terrorism threats and the same privacy issues.

Had we really known the truth of what was to come, we all probably would have been a lot more scared that day.

 

 

9/11 refocused the Collegian’s presentation of news

By Gary Kimsey

The tone, scope and look of the Collegian changed dramatically after the newspaper published on September 12, 2001, the bold banner front-page headline “TERROR IN U.S.” above a large color photograph of smoke pouring from the World Trade Center. It was, by far, the most dramatic, the most stunning and the most dismally sad front page published in the newspaper’s 110-year history.

Even in its early decades, the Collegian often published articles that, in one way or another, looked at international and national issues. Beginning in the 1960s, the newspaper relied on news services like the Associated Press and United Press International to provide U.S. and world news.

The Collegian covered candelight vigils, student gatherings and many other events as students expressed their views about 9/11. In this photo, taken by Collegian photo editor Patrick Lehman, CSU president Albert Yates addresses an on-campus prayer and healing memorial service on September 13.

The Collegian covered candle light vigils, student gatherings and many other events as students expressed their views about 9/11. In this photo, taken by Collegian photo editor Patrick Lehman, CSU president Albert Yates addresses an on-campus prayer and healing memorial service on September 13. Photo courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Collegian.

The big switch: Beginning with the terror headline, the Collegian in the 2001-02 school year suddenly became a publication that emphasized international and national news as strongly (and sometimes even more enthusiastically) as it did campus and local news.

The Collegian was, of course, responding to the national anxiety and fears of the times.

All eyes of America were suddenly focused on formidable, dangerous and often unsolvable problems around the world, particularly in the Mideast where the search began for Osama bin Laden. There were many, many major national and international issues reported by the Collegian throughout the 2001-02 school year: anthrax scares, bombings in Israel, controversies around the proposed cloning of humans, the Islamic military’s kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, and illegal financial shenanigans by Enron Corp., to name just a few.

Given all the turbulence in the world, it wasn’t unusual to see the Collegian’s front and inside pages, as well as the editorial pages, crowded with articles, side by side, about international, national, local and campus issues.

Take the front page on March 5, 2002, as an example. The top story was about U.S. secretary of defense Donald H. Rumsfeld talking about the deaths of soldiers in a battle against al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. The second story on the page focused on the closure of CSU’s Silver Spruce yearbook due to a lack of student interest. The third story: Tough times for CSU graduates to find work. The final article was coverage of a Nobel Prize winner speaking on campus about freezing atoms.

Astounding variety: The wide variety of available news during the school year was astounding, and editors sometimes faced tough choices. Should this story be published rather than that or this one? Does the story warrant front-page coverage or should it be slipped onto an inside page?

The most dramatic front page in the history of the Collegian's 110 years.

The most dramatic front page in the history of the Collegian’s 125 years.

Much to their credit, Collegian staff members spent considerable time and effort interviewing campus experts to get local slants and reactions for stories of international and national importance.

However, as typically happens—regardless of the newspaper, magazine, TV or radio network—readers are never shy about giving back-handed slaps to the media. This was shown when the Collegian launched a daily column, Campus Voice, where four different students were interviewed about topics that ranged from campus to international issues.

The question on Feb. 5, 2002: “What’s your biggest complaint about the Collegian?” Two responses demonstrated the unawareness of some readers about how and why the newspaper presented information:

One interviewee responded, “The lack of international coverage, even though it’s a campus paper.”

On the other hand, another interviewee said, “Too many articles written by the Associated Press.”

Collegian cartoonist Rick Kinzer drew this art to accompany a Sept. 12 editorial column in which he wrote, "I wish I could wake up tomorrow, and it would be all over. I wish the whole thing was staged by CNN, kind of a War-of-the-Worlds for TV."

Collegian cartoonist Rick Kinzer drew this art to accompany a Sept. 12 editorial column in which he wrote, “I wish I could wake up tomorrow, and it would be all over. I wish the whole thing was staged by CNN, kind of a War-of-the-Worlds for TV.”

Tricky business: In mid-September, the Collegian’s state editor, Josh Hardin, who would go on to become the editor-in-chief in the 2002-03 school year, published an editorial noting that members of the media around the world had discovered that covering the 9-11 crisis was a “tricky business.” Some Americans, for instance, complained that television images were too graphic or printed quotes were too dramatic.

Some of these critical feelings, of course, spilled over toward the Collegian, which issue after issue continued to report the developing story of terrorism.

Nonetheless, 9-11 had one positive effect. Hardin wrote: “Here at the Collegian newsroom these events—that were perpetrated by the worst of people—seemed to bring out the best in us.”

At the time of 9/11, the Collegian was in its 110th year. It is impossible to know how the tiny staff that launched the newspaper in 1891 would feel about the way the Collegian evolved and matured, particularly in the 2001-02 school year. But chances are good that those long-gone Collegian creators would have been amazed, proud and, most likely, envious.

The author of this second blog, Gary Kimsey, is helping the Collegian update its history book published at the end of the newspaper’s first century in 1991. The updated book will include the last 25 years, from 1991 to 2016. The year 2016 marks the newspaper’s 125th anniversary.

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Rocky Mountain Showdown, 1999 style: A football game marked by tear gas and arrests

“Jail is dark and cold and it smells,” wrote a Collegian editor about his incarceration after being arrested while taking photographs.

It was a football game like none other ever played in Colorado. The poor underdog bested the heavily favored nationally ranked team.

But what happened after the victory was the more important story reported by the Rocky Mountain Collegian.

CSU won the day on the field, but many students lost in the aftermath of tear gas and arrests. Photo of CSU's running back Kevin McDougal in the 1999 game taken by Matthew Staver, courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Collegian.

CSU won the day on the field, but many students lost in the aftermath of tear gas and arrests. Photo of CSU’s running back Kevin McDougal in the 1999 game taken by Matthew Staver, courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Collegian.

The 1999 game was the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown between Colorado State University and University of Colorado, played at the Broncos stadium in Denver.

The rivalry between the state’s two top universities has more to it than merely the outcome, although the final score is unquestionably important for bragging rights in the coming year

Just so you’ll know, the 2016 contest, played over the Labor Day weekend, ended in a CU victory, 44-7:

{Rocky Mountain beatdown. Read the Collegian coverage of the 2016 game.)

Prior to the 2016 game, Justin Michael, Collegian sports reporter, published a Sept. 2 article that emphasized the importance of the annual event:

“In a state that lives for the Broncos 365 days a year, the Rocky Mountain Showdown is the one day a year where college football truly reigns supreme. Throughout the rivalry, some of the greatest and most exciting games in the history of both Colorado State and Colorado football have come against each other.

“Winning the in-state matchup sets the tone for the entire season and whether either school will admit it or not, this game means a lot to both programs involved. Over the past two decades, the game has tended to be extremely competitive, no matter the state of either program.”

A CSU fan lies on the ground after Denver policy used pepper spray and tear gas to keep fans from storming onto the field. Photo by Nikolaus Olsen, the Collegian's regional editor in 1999. Courtsey of the Rocky Mountain Collegian.

A CSU fan lies on the ground after Denver police used pepper spray and tear gas to keep fans from storming onto the field. Photo by Nikolaus Olsen, the Collegian’s regional editor in 1999. Courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Collegian.

 

The Collegian has always covered the Showdown in sharp fashion: pre-game articles, in-depth coverage of the event with articles and photographs; and extensive post-game analysis.

But never has the coverage focused on such a bizarre post-game outcome as the 1999 game when the CSU Rams unexpectedly whipped the CU Buffs 41-14. The Rams hadn’t beaten CU in 13 years.

Immediately following the victory, some Ram fans swept toward the field as part of a victory tradition that follows many big games across the U.S.

Then, it all began:

As described in an article written by editor-in-chief Allison Sherry in the Sept. 7, 1999, Collegian:

“In the seconds after CSU’s surprise victory over the 14th-ranked University of Colorado, Denver police officers, donning riot gear, unleashed tear gas on the predominately student crowd in the northeast section of the stadium.

“Fans sitting up to 20 rows back were clinging to one another in agony and collapsing in the aisles. Police also sprayed a group of huddling cheerleaders and CSU band members who were playing the fight song.”

Sherry quoted a band member: “’People in front of me started putting their instruments down and coughing. I finished the song and that’s when the gas hit me. The police were all buddy-buddy and patting each other on the back.”

Leaving behind a cloud of tear gras, Denver police move away to safer ground on the football field. Photo by Matthew Staver, Collegian photographer. Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Collegian.

Leaving behind a cloud of tear gas, Denver police move away to safer ground on the football field. Photo by Matthew Staver, Collegian photographer. Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Collegian.

The Denver police chief said officers were trying to keep overzealous students from rushing the field. “Beer bottles and canned goods were being thrown,” Sherry reported him as saying. “We think we did respond appropriately.”

By the end of the fray, 15 CSU students were arrested. Among them was Nikolaus Olsen, the Collegian’s regional editor who was taking photographs of the melee.

“I wasn’t drunk at all,” said Olsen, a journalism major. “I think the cops thought I was drunk because my eyes were red and watery from the tear gas.”

He was charged with trespassing and failure to obey a lawful order. As a way to avoid a $200 bail or more time in jail, he did like some others who were arrested: pleaded guilty before a Denver judge. He received no sentence or fine.

But he did gain a good story to tell from spending 16 hours in the Denver County jail.

“Jail is dark and cold and it smells,” he wrote about the experience in a first-person article titled “I fought the law and the law won.”

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Welcome to the history of the Rocky Mountain Collegian

Greetings. You are reading the first blog about the 125-year history of the Rocky Mountain Collegian, the student newspaper at Colorado State University.

This blog evolved out of a project underway to update a history book about the Collegian’s first century. “The First 100 Years” was published in the 1991-92 school year.

Now, in the 2016-17 school year, the update of the book is moving forward to include the last 25 years, back to the 1992-93 school year. The end product will be “The First 125 Years.”

As part of this blog, we’re asking former and current Collegian employees—and, for that matter, any readers from any decade—to contribute guest essays that relate, somehow and in some way, to the newspaper’s history.

If you’re interested in contributing an essay now or in the future, send an email to collegianhistory@yahoo.com.

{Read a PDF of “The First 100 Years”}

The Collegian was launched in December 1891. Back then, 100 students attended the school, known as Colorado Agricultural College. The school opened its doors in 1877 when the first five students began classes. Now, the enrollment is more than 32,000.

Printed on glossy paper less than the size of typewriter paper, the first Collegian was 12 pages, with more than 30 percent devoted to advertising. Only 190 college newspapers existed at the time. By 2016, almost every university, college and junior college publishes a student newspaper.

Advertisements from the first Collegian.

Advertisements from the first Collegian.

The first words in the first issue: “All progress is the result of mental activity….”  This proceeded into a lengthy esoteric, eloquent essay about the benefits of education, the search for God, the meaning of life and death, and the infinite depths of the human mind.

Taken from the winning speech in the college’s oration contest held a couple of weeks earlier, the essay was penned in the complex, formal language of the time period. It’s fun to read just to see what written language and student thoughts were all about in those days.

A poem and one other article — an essay on an imaginative and idyllic Thanksgiving — were the other main editorial offerings. The poem was about how adding tender to a campfire is like stoking one’s hope in life.

Like a Tweet before Tweets: The early Collegians were published monthly, often with news of what readers of today might consider gossip—that is, blurbs and short quips about the activities of students and professors.

With the small student enrollment, the campus was similar to a hamlet where everybody seemed to know everything about everyone. As a result, some of the information in the first issue was meant for insiders who already were privy to the background of issues.

There is no way of telling today what was meant by such lines in the first Collegian as:

Did you go left?

Are you a member of the family circle?”

Hand your dollar to “Tommy.”

And, of course, this mysterious numerical one-liner lost now in the long halls of history: 124.

{Read the first issue of the Rocky Mountain Collegian}

During its 125 years, the Collegian carved out a remarkable history. It helped shape the minds of students, faculty and community members. Its news coverage and editorials swayed elections of student leaders and campus issues; and even balloting in the city of Fort Collins and Larimer County. It was the local leader in advocating equality for races, religion, sexual preference, and many other issues, sometimes long before those issues emerged on the national scene.

The Collegian supported American World I and II efforts, strongly opposed the Vietnam War, and captured in stories, editorials, photographs and political cartoons such unusual times as “streaking” when hundreds of students raced naked back and forth on the lawn on the west side of the Student Center.

1896: The first photograph of a Collegian staff. When it came time in June 1896 for the Collegian to publish the traditional biographical sketches of graduating seniors, the staff members didn’t let anyone off their witty hook. About editor R.W. Hawley (standing in the middle of the back row), they wrote, “By actual measurement he is found to be five feet high and the ratio of his breadth to his height is 1:2. he wears a No. 7 1/8 hat; weighs 140 pounds, greater part of which is feet; has a warm heart especially for the ‘fair sex’ and among them he is known as ‘Robbie,’ which is quite significant.” Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Collegian.

The Collegian applauded individual students, skewered some, reported on tragedy, editorialized about student fee hikes, made students cry and laugh, and caused administrators to grit their teeth in sizzling anger. A few editors-in-chief were loved by readers. Others were hung in effigy from trees on campus…

Well, you get the point. For Collegian staff members throughout the decades, life often boiled down to staying ahead of the proverbial curve, falling behind the just-as-proverbial eight-ball, and learning, failing, getting back up, and succeeding—and then back to work to prepare the next issue. Oh, and then there were those pesky academic classes…

Work at the Collegian: I always encourage students—regardless of whether they are journalism and mass communication majors—to work at the Collegian as reporters, editors, columnists, photographers, graphic artists, or ad sales reps. About 2,500 to 3,000 students worked there throughout the 125 years. Many learned skills and a craft that benefited them throughout their lives.

The experience to be gained can best be explained by an editorial written more than four decades ago by Pat Noel, editor-in-chief during the last part of the 1973 school year:

“College journalism remains, for the most part, the last creative medium now published. Here, one can try on ideas, discard them, play with photographic layout, typography, toy with prose and rhetoric…All within the journalistic credo that there is no idea so sacred that it is not subject to questioning criticism and affirmation or negation as a result.”

For many reporters, editors and other employees, the Collegian was the first time (and, unfortunately, sometimes the last time) when they had access to a medium where they were the ones solely in charge.

Regardless of how the newspaper evolved and changed throughout the 125 years, one tradition remained strong: The Collegian has always been run by students. Their judgement calls were occasionally wrong; most often, good; and, to paraphrase a sentence in the first article in the first Collegian, the power of the mind began to unfold itself for them.

Examples of upcoming blog topics:

  • Sex and the Collegian
  • Collegian fights against racism when the KKK ruled northern Colorado
  • Burning of Old Main