Alumni Association

University of Colorado Boulder

A record of The Silver and Gold

By Susan Barney Jones (MJour’84)

When I started my graduate studies in journalism at CU-Boulder in 1982, three publications were on campus: the Colorado Daily, Campus Press and Silver & Gold Record. As a student I had bylines in the Colorado Daily and Campus Press. It wasn’t until after I was hired as the Boulder campus reporter for Silver & Gold Record (the CU system’s faculty and staff newspaper) that I heard about the former student paper, The Silver and Gold. I was appointed editor of Silver & Gold Record in 1989 and I occasionally received a call from an alum who had worked for The Silver and Gold decades before. I would have to explain that my paper was not that publication.

A while back, I ventured into Norlin Library’s archives department. There I opened up the first bound volumes of The Silver and Gold, which began publication on Sept. 13, 1892. During my search I discovered that The Silver and Gold became ….

But I am getting ahead of myself.

The newspaper’s editors said The Silver and Gold, which got its name from the school colors (and the metals mined west of Boulder), would “endeavor to represent the best interests of the institution to all its departments.” The first press run was 800 copies and a single copy cost 5 cents. The paper also had eight pages of advertising.

Editorials were a part of The Silver and Gold from the very beginning. In the second issue, the editor called on students to show their school spirit. “Genuine enthusiasm for the University of Colorado should pervade the minds of our students,” the editor wrote.

A “Notes and Personals” section provides insight into campus life. Here is a sampling: “Letters of inquiry are constantly coming in from prospective students,” “A gay party of students went on a picnic to the mountains Saturday,” “Athletics are all the rage. Oh, for a gymnasium!” and “Overcoats have made their appearance. Bad colds seem to be the order of the day.”

By the beginning of 1893, the editorial staff stated that they were going to seek “a more literary character” for the paper and began to solicit contributions. “A college paper is, we believe, the index to the literary taste and advancement of an institution,” they wrote.

100 years ago

The Silver and Gold at the turn of the 20th century reflected the growth and importance of the university, with coverage of faculty, alumni, athletics, facilities and student government. The paper also played up the rivalries with other state schools. On Sept. 24, 1903, a headline read “Denver University claims to have graduated more students than Colorado College or the University of Colorado,” and mused whether DU knew where those two schools were located. The staff also complained that the Denver newspapers were ignoring CU.

“There are nearly 150 students in the university at present who register from Denver,” the paper reported on Sept. 30, 1903. “It is safe to say that, notwithstanding the attitude of the Denver papers toward the state university, there are about as many Boulder enthusiasts [in Denver] as the number of DU supporters.”

A humorous feature reminding students to take responsibility for the newspaper’s success was published on Oct. 7, 1903. Titled “How to Kill a College Paper,” its five-step recipe demonstrated the frustration on the part of the editorial staff:

1. “Do not subscribe. Borrow your neighbor’s paper. Be a sponge.”

2. “Look up the advertisements and trade with the other fellow. Be a chump.”

3. “Never hand in a news item and criticize everything in the paper. Be a coxcomb.”

4. “If you are a member of the staff, play pool or ten pins when you ought to be tending your business. Be a shirk.”

5. “Tell your neighbor that you pay too much for the paper. Be a squeeze.”

6. “If you can’t get a hump on your anatomy and make the paper a success. Be a corpse.”

The paper’s business manager also reminded students of the need to pay their subscriptions in a note on Oct. 21: “We are $orry to $peak of $o $mall a $um but $eemingly $ome $eem to forget their $ub$cription and $o let the $um $lip their $ound memorie$. We won’t in thi$ i$$ue $peak further on the $ubject but tru$t you have gue$$ed the purpo$e of the$e remark$.”

As the paper became more of a feature on campus, the staff saw a need to define their work. On Sept. 19, 1906, a two-page editorial explained in greater detail the mission of the paper.

“The purpose and policy of The Silver and Gold is to print all available news of interest and furnish each week to the student body some matter of literary worth,” the editorial stated. “Every effort will be made to succeed in combining these two purposes of a college paper. Silver and Gold will not enter to any considerable degree into student politics. Our policy will be one of generous and whole-hearted support for all university interests and enterprises. We shall not indulge in adverse comment upon the actions of the ruling powers of the university.”

This proviso to stay out of politics appeared a difficult one to uphold in the ensuing years.     

The look of a traditional newspaper

In the next decade, a six-column format allowed for numerous stories on the front page. For example the headlines on Sept. 11, 1913, included: “President Baker may accept pension;” “Athletic director begins new duties;” “Registration promises to reach highest point in history of university;” and “More men needed for Coach Folsom’s team.”

Athletic events were described in flowery language. The November football game with Colorado College was a “titanic struggle,” watched by a “crowd in gay attire.”

The reporter wrote, “Shortly after 1:30 o’clock, the crowds began pouring through the gates and filling the bleachers. Amid a riot of colors, waving plumes and flashing streaks of silver and gold, the fair co-eds found their way to the north half of the west section of the grandstand where they cheered madly as they viewed the clashing of the two great forces.”

By 1917 the United States was involved in the war in Europe and the paper took up the call for a national fundraiser called the “friendship campaign.” The university’s campaign had raised $5,500, the headline said. “Colorado has done her bit in the raising of $1 million allotted to colleges and universities of the country,” the paper reported. “The million dollar total is part of the $35 million being raised by the YMCA for war work in the army camps of the United States and her allies and the prisoner camps of Germany.”

Student life in the 1920s

By 1922, the university enrolled more than 2,000 students. The war was over, women had the vote and the focus was on student life. On Oct. 3, 1924, the paper came out in favor of a proposal for “one of the most advanced forms of health service in the country,” which would include limited hospital treatments, operations, quarterly exams and medicines for a quarterly fee of $1.50.

On Oct. 17, 1924, the paper reported that the student senate had decided that all freshman women must wear green silk bandanas to designate their status as first-year students. The student government also was going to choose sophomore women as “co-ed police” officers to ensure freshmen women wore the bandanas. “A rumor that a petition against wearing the bandanas is being circulated has not been verified,” the story said, but by Oct. 24 the paper was reporting that “Frosh co-eds to wear badges in place of scarves. Action taken because of dissatisfaction with green bandana plan.” Forty “police” women were to check that first-year women were wearing the now-required white button badges marked with class of ’28 and decorated with two green ribbons.

The paper also editorialized in 1925 in support of a fundraising drive to build a university memorial center on campus. More than 1,000 students had not contributed to the fund drive and those students would be “personally interviewed during the campaign,” the paper said.

Naming a mascot

During my tenure at Silver & Gold Record, stories about construction projects were numerous. It was the same with The Silver and Gold. One of the biggest news stories in 1934 was the completion of the women’s dormitory. The building, now called Sewall Hall, was opened with fanfare in September. The newspaper illustrated its stories with artists’ sketches and floor plans for the new facility. CU had the largest freshman class in history – 497 out of 3,195 total enrollment.

As a “Forever Buff,” you might be interested to learn that prior to 1934, CU’s athletic teams had no official mascot. A naming contest in 1926 had awarded the prize to “wolves,” but the name was never used. On Oct. 12, 1934, Silver and Gold sponsored a new naming contest, and announced on Nov. 7 that the name “Buffaloes” had been chosen as the nickname for the university’s athletic teams. About 1,000 entries were submitted from all over the country, the paper said, and the two winners — alums from Missouri and Ohio —would share the $5 prize.

On March 1, 1935, the paper printed a notice from its now active Board of Publications clarifying the editorial policy. “Student publications of the University of Colorado are published for the purpose of representing student interests and opinions,” the notice read. “They do not represent the university as a whole, or official opinions. They are not censored. The university nevertheless recognizes a responsibility for the maintenance of the moral decencies and the proprieties of public utterances which it exercises through its Board of Publications.”

Post-war and the early 1950s

During the early 1940s, the editorial staff continued to report on social and athletic activities, but they also took up several causes, including racial discrimination. On March 27, 1942, a headline read “Regents decide to discriminate against Japanese,” by instituting a strict set of regulations for Japanese-Americans to transfer to CU. And on Jan. 29, 1943, the paper ran a story, “Four colored CU students refused cokes in Quine’s,” an establishment on The Hill.

In 1951 the paper championed the cause of Professor Irving Goodman of chemistry who had been fired by the regents for his association with the Communist Party. Another professor, Morris Judd of philosophy, also was fired by the regents and the paper followed his case closely for more than a year. On May 20, 1952, the paper ran a story “Regents may face suit over Judd dismissal,” and a strongly worded editorial “How a great university has FAILED.” The university “has exchanged self-assurance for petty jealousy, suspicion and fear,” the editorial said.

The end of The Silver and Gold

On Dec. 12, 1952, a brief story noted that the editors were proposing a new name for the newspaper, and later that month, the publications board approved the name change. The new name – Colorado Daily – was meant to enhance the prestige of the paper as the only college daily in the state and identify it more clearly in national collegiate press circles, “where we are usually known only as a name, with no connection to our geographical location or frequency of publication.”

On Feb. 5, 1953, the Colorado Daily hit the stands. The new paper said Silver and Gold was tired of “proving its mettle” [pun intended] and citing a 1927 Silver and Gold editorial, said the staff “disliked the job of reporting for and editing a semi-weekly news sheet with a name, as one of the former editors once wrote ‘like a mining journal.’”

The Colorado Daily carried on the work begun by The Silver and Gold 60 years before and was published under the auspices of the CU student government until 1971 when the regents cut all ties with that publication. But that is another story.

Susan Barney Jones (MJour ’84) was editor of Silver & Gold Record for 18 years.  


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