The Fixer: JMU’s Underground Student Newspaper
Posted on: May 18, 2016
On November 20th, 1969, a handful of students published then Madison College’s first underground newspaper.
It began that day with a strong purpose – to re-establish the lines of communication between students, faculty, and the administration of Madison College President G. Tyler Miller.
“This paper is… a non-political, non-sectarian, non-sexual, non-racial, non-national, non-affiliated, non-profit aggregation.”
The Fixer was published during turbulent times by an increasingly coeducational wave of students. The content includes feature articles and op-ed pieces, poetry, prose, hand drawn cartoons and advertisements.
“We do not want readers to accept our word as being above question. We are striving for a meaningful exchange of ideas, a confrontation of minds. If we fail in our objective, it is not because of what we say, but how it is received.”
Often discussed were student rules of conduct, which leaned heavily on the legal principle of in loco parentis, or in the place of a parent, which allowed the university to make rules concerning academic conduct with a more parental focus.
Also discussed were the protests occurring both around the nation and in their own backyard.
Prominent protests at the school during that time included the “Madison 30 protests”, in which several members of the college were arrested following a sit-in demonstration at Wilson Hall.
This, along with other similar demonstrations, saw the end of several student and faculty careers at the university as a result.
Wrote one protester, “As I write this, I am a Madison College student; when it is published, I may not be.”
Stories often criticized both the Miller and the Carrier administrations.
According to a handful of stories, the publication nearly ran out of funding on several occasions.
“We’re too poor even to have moths…” ran one headline on the subject.
Contributions at the time could be sent to a P.O. Box in Broadway for Madison College Press (Free). Daily needs included the cost of paper and the purchase of a mimeograph machine. Readers were encouraged to pass the paper to others as a limited number of issues were printed.
In all, the publication ran from 1969-1973, roughly the same span of time as an average student’s career at the university.
For those looking to research issues during that time period in the Valley’s history, or just wanting to check out the excellent hand drawn artwork, existing copies of The Fixer can be found online on JMU Scholarly Commons. In 2015, Digital Collections digitized 73 issues of The Fixer from the collections within the Special Collections unit. Over 500 pages were scanned, edited, and digitally compressed into PDF files for online use, in a process taking over 60 hours to complete.
Each issue of The Fixer is keyword searchable to aid researchers in finding specific content. These PDF files may be viewed online or downloaded from the JMU Scholarly Commons website,http://commons.lib.jmu.edu/fixer/.
Access to the original paper copies of The Fixer is available from the Special Collections unit. For more information, contact Special Collections at (540) 568-3612, or visit their website at www.lib.jmu.edu/special/.
Categorised in: JMU Libraries News