The Spokesman Speaks Again
By Mary J. Loftus
Sophomore Grace Cummings 11Ox first approached the editors of the campus newspaper, the Oxford Spokesman, about drawing cartoons for the newly revived publication. She wound up becoming its editor-in-chief, sharing that slot with Dallas Hayden 11Ox.
“In order to draw cartoons, I had to attend meetings and eventually I started writing articles,” and one thing led to another, Cummings says. “Although Oxford’s students have reputations for being very involved in campus activities, people are often engrossed in their own clubs and academics and rarely know what’s going on outside of them. The newspaper keeps people informed. I often refer to the Spokesman as an ‘everything-club.’ ”
The paper was resurrected last year to help keep students abreast of campus happenings, new courses, and recurring events such as the Fall Formal and Alternative Spring Break. “But we have had a few truly newsworthy items grace our pages and website,” Cummings adds. “Last year, we reported on the memorial services of two classmates who passed away during the school year. We also reported on a groundbreaking benefit dance for Haiti earthquake victims and art displays in the library done by Oxford professors.”
This year’s staff has written about incidents of vandalism on campus, the return visit by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama to the Atlanta campus, and a well-known rapper’s unexpected appearance at the Fall Band Party. The paper also features student opinion pieces and commentary on politics, music, and movies.
The Spokesman has been published at Oxford for decades, but not consistently. Neil Penn, emeritus professor of history, helped revive the newspaper in 1966, and the role of faculty adviser was then taken over by Professor of English Gretchen Schulz. Kenneth Carter 87Ox 89C, now professor of psychology at Oxford, was a Spokesman editor when he was a student.
Eventually, however, the local company that printed the newspaper closed and publication ceased. When Oxford began offering a course in journalism in fall 2008, taught by Charles Howard Candler Professor of English Lucas Carpenter, it sparked an interest in bringing back the Spokesman.
“It’s important that students have their own news vehicle,” says Carpenter, the paper’s current adviser. “It’s part of a vibrant campus.”
The latest issues roll off the presses only in the virtual sense. “Dallas and I are trying out a new Spokesman website (www.oxfordspeaks.com) similar to the Wheel’s website,” Cummings says. New articles are published every few weeks. But, in a nod to the idiom that everything old becomes new again, the editors have proposed a new project: a print issue of the Spokesman, to be distributed to students and faculty.