History of The Blotter

Zoe Frishberg, Maroon-News Staff

Colgate University has numerous student publications since its founding in 1819. The first publication was the Hamilton Student, which ran from November 1846 until March 1847. That publication was then renamed the Hamilton Student and Christian Reformer, which ran from April 1847 until July 1847. Next, the paper was renamed to the Christian Reformer, which was published from July 1847 until September 1847. The Madisonensis came next, which was produced from August 1868 until June of 1898. It was renamed to the Junior Daily from May 1906 until May 1916. Next came the “Colgate Maroon” from September 1916 until November 1991. The Colgate News ran from September 1968 until December 1991.

In January of 1992 The Colgate Maroon and The Colgate News merged to form The Colgate Maroon-News, which is still in circulation today. A feature of today’s paper is the “Blotter,” a section of the paper with short descriptions of crimes, events and news that happened during the week. Blotters contain all of the information that should be included in the paper, but do not necessarily warrant full articles in the paper. Since the start of the Maroon, or the paper’s earlier equivalent, there have been different versions of the “Blotter,” and very different types of information included in them, ranging from crimes and events to anecdotes and vague pieces of personal information. 

In 1869, The Madisonensis started to include some sections in their papers which most closely resemble the current day blotter. The different sections were titled “Local,” “Personal,” and “College Gossip.” The “Local” section detailed news about students attending Colgate at the time. The “Personal” section was a blotter detailing news about past graduates, while “College Gossip” described events and updates about not only about Colgate, but about colleges around the country. These sections did not exclusively deal with crimes, but more general gossip and information about students that might seem trivial to today’s readers. For example,“A Yale freshman has made an ass of himself by challenging a New Haven baker to fight a duel” (Madisonensis 1870) and “P.F Jones [Colgate class of ’54] of Buffalo, NY has joined the Presbyterians” (Madisonensis 1870). 

The Madisonensis eventually switched the headings of its news blotters to encompass all of the previous categories, renaming it into one big section of “University and Town.” This section included even stranger, more trivial pieces of “news” than in the past editions. Some examples from this section include: “Mr. Roy B. Smith, Instructor in Chemistry, is writing a text book on elementary chemistry” (Madisonensis 1903) and “Miss Mabel Vassar has returned from Poughkeepsie, N.Y,” (Madisonensis 1903). 

The older issues of The Maroon and previous versions of the Colgate paper, seem to be much less concerned with crimes and much more concerned with the personal affairs of Hamilton residents and students. All of the issues of The Madisonensis continue to split up the two sections of the blotter into “College and Town” and “Intercollegiates.” These two columns detail whereabouts of students, news about graduates, sports recaps and news from all around the country about different colleges. It is unclear how the writers of The Maroon and the other publications chose who and what they would include in the blotters of the time, as they seem to not be concerned with local crime as The Maroon-News is today. Many of the items seem random and trivial. The label of “College and Town” continues for a long time, with the issues of The Colgate Maroon including that heading in the 1900s.  Still, the items on these blotters also seem random and very personal. Some of these items in the later issues include: “E.W Cooper, [Colgate class of] ’20, of Erie, PA has left college” (Colgate Maroon 1917) and “Harvard crew candidates will continue practice indoors throughout the winter” (Colgate Maroon 1919). There were also some very strange ones, like: “The other day we heard the story of the freshman who got his first kiss and smoked his first cigarette on the same day. He hasn’t smoked a cigarette since.” (Colgate Maroon 1938).

In 1995 the paper started using the term “Campus Safety Blotter” as the heading for the crimes and news section of the paper. Since then, the name has switched to just “The Blotter” as it is now, but the items in the section have remained the same. These blotters covered more specifically the infractions on campus. Items from these blotters include: “Student reported the theft of a backpack while left unattended in the lobby of Frank Dining Hall” (Colgate Maroon-News 1995) and “a resident of 110 Broad Street reported that a suspicious acting person had entered the residence and items were missing from the residence” (Colgate Maroon-News 2001).

The Blotter now includes only policy infractions, crimes and instances in which Campus Safety’s assistance is needed, and no longer includes personal information about certain students like in the past issues.

Contact Zoe Frishberg at [email protected]