Time travel, news style

Okay, I have a nerdy confession to make.

As a kid, my favourite movie was Back to the Future and it wasn’t because of Michael J. Fox’s gosh darn cute looks or Christopher Lloyd as zany Doc Brown. I found the concept of time travel fascinating. The idea of being witness to a period of time other than one’s own intrigued me and I soon wished I had my very own DeLorean to live out history (ideally, without putting my own existence in jeopardy).

In contrast, my life as a campus journalist is all about remaining current and relevant. News is often accused of being a fleeting entity without much room for retrospection and reflection. We see copies of newspapers in recycling bins and the odd garbage bin and think nothing of it. News changes with the times. However, a recent visit to the Queen’s Archives brought another important feature of the newspaper to light for me: its role as a future historical document.

The archives had always seemed mysterious to me, often referred to but never seen first-hand. I found them in Kathleen Ryan Hall, one of the buildings in the medical quadrangle behind Crane Building. As I entered, it was clear I’d crossed the threshold of a place not many had gone before.

I entered the large, empty, musky-smelling room full of aging books and wooden desk. I soon found signs of humanity and was directed to a friendly man named Paul, the resident archivist who would be catering to my historical needs. After telling him I came in search of old copies of the Journal for research for an article, he went to the back room and within minutes handed me four bound Journals from the 1940s and 1950s, apologizing that one was a little “worse for wear.” Scanning through the pages, I was suddenly confronted with what it means to be part of the “Queen’s tradition” this school prides itself on. From controversial AMS elections to Homecoming football games to the advent of the Grease Pole tradition, the articles allowed me to see previous generations of Golden Gaels through a more human lens and brought to light the historic legacy we’re all a part of.

Additionally, reading articles entitled “I’m the only girl in my science class” and op-eds debating the merits of co-ed residences on campus acted as a reminder of how much has changed over the last 50 to 60 years.

Whether you’re someone who reads campus publications religiously or just casually at Stauffer while waiting for a friend, the articles you read or skim will become a source of history for future generations of Queen’s students to scrutinize as they try to figure out what the PEC once stood for and what “A&P” was. More importantly, the events chronicled in campus publications—whether journalistic, satiric or editorial in form—allow us to reflect on issues that affect students told from the perspective of the students themselves. No other forum allows for that voice to be heard and chronicled like the student newspaper.

As I exited the Queen’s University archives, Paul encouraged me to come back if I ever needed to research. Without hesitation I told him I would, as a trip to archives may be the closest thing to a time-travelling DeLorean I’ll ever have.

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