Fall Means Election Time: A Look Back Through ARB’s Issues of the News Record

By: Iman Said, Archives & Rare Books Intern for 2014-2015

John F. Kennedy
Kennedy campaigns in Cincinnati with local Democratic boss, John “Socko” Wiethe. Photograph by Jack Klumpe.

It’s officially Fall, which means I am writing this post with a pumpkin spice latte in hand. Last week, I wrote about a photo of the UC football team from the late 1800s. While my role is primarily focused on images and photos, I also get to work with historical documents. I love looking through old copies of the News Record, the student-run newspaper here on UC’s campus. You can find digitized copies of the newspapers from 1960 to 1970, as well as 1973 to 1976 by going to http://digital.libraries.uc.edu/newsrecord/.  The Archives & Rare Books Library’s intent is that eventually all the years of the newspaper will be digitized, from 1885 to the point where the News Record began electronic issues.

Today, I am looking through the October 6, 1960 News Record. There are articles about Homecoming, the upcoming elections, a summary of Convocation, and an update on events going on in the community. It’s interesting to look through the number of articles regarding that year’s presidential election. The election was a pivotal moment in US history, with incumbent vice president Richard Nixon running against the senator from Massachusetts, John F.  Kennedy. It was the closest election since 1916, and the first instance of a candidate losing an election despite winning the majority of states. Kennedy won with 303 electoral votes, by a margin of less than one percent.

News Record

While the election itself is a fascinating study in the effectiveness of our electoral system, the impact it had on college campuses is perhaps a better indication of public political efficacy. Going by the News Record, both political parties were represented on campus, and both the UC Student Republican Club and the UC Young Democrats Club held events designed to rally students around the respective candidates. This particular issue mentions a bus trip sponsored by the Republican Club which allowed students to meet the GOP Truth Squad, a group of Republican senators who trailed the Kennedy campaign, monitoring his every action. The UC Democrats brought in former governors, worked with the precincts, and helped students register to vote. Even the News Record got in on the action, hosting a mock election the week before the official vote.

It is well known that during that time period many college-aged citizens were involved in politics. The Kennedy era was a time of student movements and rallies. Students were full of hope for the future and the knowledge that they could make a difference in their communities. They came together to solve problems regarding segregation and civil rights, to push for the innovations that led to putting a man on the moon, to happily ship off to impoverished areas of the world through the Peace Corps.

In my opinion, we don’t see enough of that today. We see individuals standing up against sexual assault and in support of diversity and LGBTQ rights. There are students out there who are making changes, but there isn’t a universal cause that all students are getting behind. As a local example, our students have yet to come together to protest tuition hikes or to support the advancement of minority students and faculty or to push for more stringent policies regarding sexual assault. Small groups have called for change but our student body has approached the issues rather lackadaisically. It is my hope that as time goes on, our students will begin to unite and support each other, leading to real improvements on campus.