By Samantha Remington
The first Top o’ the World newspaper was published on November 23, 1921, when Western Colorado University was originally named The Colorado State Normal School.
“The Board of Trustees established its autonomy after a Gunnison citizen called for its censorship after receiving what he felt was unfair treatment in its page,” states Yvette Roberts, a former Top Member, “The ruling was that the Top was free of faculty or administrative control but be advised by a member of the faculty trained in journalism.” In honor of the school newspaper turning 100 this year, alumni share highlights and their experiences with Top.
Perhaps one of the most famous Top issues was published in November 1950. The front page read, “Varsity Liner Careens Down Pass: Football Bus, Brakes Gone, Narrowly Avoids Tragedy.” The bus full of 33 football players was traveling to an away game when panic struck going down a summit. When the brakes stopped working and the gear shift went out, bus driver Jerry Tobin instructed the football players to move to the back of the bus, hoping to slow it down. Luckily, they made it to the bottom of the summit safe and sound.
Former Top members recall their contributions to the school newspaper. One former member of the academic year 1964-65 shares his memory of the literary magazine, Etcetera that became a part of the school for several years. “We told admin that we wanted to start a monthly literary magazine as part of the Top. The Administration said no,” Dick Montrose says, “So, we worked it into the bid from the printers-the admin did not carefully read the print bids-and the lit magazine Etcetera was born.”
In a more serious memory, Stuart Glascock who is another former member and the founder of Top o’ the World Alumni Facebook group recalls that on Oct. 7, 1982, a 4-page special edition was released with the headline, “Rape – and an eerie, full-page illustration caught plenty of attention and raised awareness on the sensitive topic.” Glascock states, “Inside were first-person accounts, articles on how hospitals, police, courts and the college treat victims, as well as prevention and self-defense.”
The Top o’ the World newspaper is responsible for collecting the University’s history since the 1920s, supporting many students who have and will become journalists, and informing the college community. It may not be as prominent now in the digital era, but for decades it was how students learned about all events and local news for Western’s campus.
“What I learned laid the foundation for my 30-plus-year career in newspapers and magazines,” says Glascock, “Even as media changes, the need for a strong, independent, free press has never been greater. The seeds for that are planted with hands-on experience.”