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  • Devon Mayse

It's My Echo Birthday

This month marks the 128 non-consecutive year for The Olivet College Echo. In 1888, the publication began as a monthly journal. According to the centennial edition published in 1988, the initial Echo sought to be a medium for students and graduates to know the current events of the town and college. Similar to this Echo, the early Echo was left to students to help and support it, as it was a journal controlled by students and for students’ welfare. Somewhere along the line The Echo went to the biweekly format that the student newspaper still holds today.

But what’s in a name? While Echo may not sound as sweet, the name "Echo" was intended to represent a "sounding board" for student opinion, a way to try and relate to students’ feelings, according to an early edition of The Echo. The name sought to reflect this idea, repeating or echoing student voices and/or opinions. An April 1962 article in The Echo described the publication’s goals as to show everything occurring on campus of general interest to students as opposed to just displaying news, The Echo presented ideas and opinions as well. In addition. The Echo sought to provide experience for students aspiring to write in journalism.

However, this student newspaper has not always been called The Olivet College Echo.

While the student newspaper initiated in 1888 did share the name The Echo, over the past 128 years, the publication has gained other names. In the wake of the Berkeley Riots and national Free Speech Movement of the 1960s, the student newspaper became The Agora. The first edition was printed on October 18, 1966, and established itself as an outlet for the voice of students, and an advocate of free speech. The Agora’s introduction cited the Free Speech Movement, explaining that as Americans under a government by the people and for the people, we must be unafraid to be heard regardless of our beliefs. The editors of The Agora added, "There are many literary and provocative minds that lay undiscovered in our own cloud of complacency at Olivet. These people, for the first time, have a chance to be heard." Their policy also claimed they would accept articles from anyone willing to write. The name "Agora" fed into their purposes and policies as well; "agora" is a Greek word for marketplace, and The Agora stood to be a marketplace, forum, and public arena for ideas.

1968 saw the death of The Agora and return of The Echo, but that would not stay for long. In the Fall of 1972 the first edition of The Rag was published in Olivet. Like The Agora, The Rag sought to change the way the student newspaper relayed ideas and opinions. The Rag’s staff sought to "offer disparate members of Olivet College a voice and to remove the artificial barriers between the people of the college," according to their first edition. The name "Rag" was a play on words, as "rag" at the time was slang for a low-quality newspaper. The last edition would be published in 1976, before The Olivet College Echo returned.

As we know, The Echo is still operating today. Students work to publish news releases, editorials, and opinion pieces today, just like their counterparts did over a century ago. While topics have changed, the mission stays the same. The Echo stands as a voice, informant, and trainer for students of Olivet College

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