On a Tradition of Engagement

Since its inception as the first newspaper on campus in 1846, the Hamilton-Student, as it was formerly known, has been an outlet for voicing concerns for students, as well as a means to challenge conventional wisdom. Perhaps none exemplify this as well as former-student, George Gavin Ritchie. 

Born in Scotland in 1820, Ritchie went to Madison University, the predecessor to Colgate University. Ritchie was an editor for the Hamilton-Student while enrolled at Madison. However, he was expelled from the school for writing an article for the paper titled “Equal Suffrage and the Religious Press,” which called residents of the State of New York to action on equal suffrage for African-American males. Despite his expulsion, Ritchie continued to push for the rights of African-Americans through his writing and speaking. Today, he is commemorated at the National Abolition Hall of Fame, located in the neighboring community of Peterboro, NY. Ritchie’s use of the paper to convey his abolitionist ideas demonstrates the way that writing can be used as an important tool of expression.

Now, we aren’t suggesting that there’s the same sort of nobility in writing for The Maroon-News today, or that our writing will be as socially impactful as Ritchie’s once was. Rather, we wish to remind you how effective the medium of the newspaper can be as a means to foster campus dialogue. It is easy to coast through your time at Colgate without engaging in important academic conversations outside of the classroom, but if you challenge yourself by putting your name on something and publishing it, you may find it to be worthwhile. We hope that The Maroon-News can be an outlet where students feel comfortable and able to express themselves.

This doesn’t mean that all articles in the paper will be focused on politics or on pushing a particular social agenda, nor do we wish for all writers to take on a serious tone. In fact, our favorite column to read is “Minus the City,” a weekly piece that navigates the unique “dating” culture at Colgate. There are plenty of ways to get involved beyond writing social commentary pieces. We have a new book review column this year that can be found in the Arts and Features section, and we plan to experiment more with creating videos and polling students on campus. The paper is a space for creativity, and we welcome any new and innovative ideas you may have.

As members of the Colgate community, feel free to take this opportunity to use the paper as a tool for expressing yourselves, as Ritchie once did. Whether you use it as a way to convey your political opinions, or as a means of sharing your struggles with the hook-up culture on campus, we look forward to hearing what you have to say.