Responding to and Expanding on “Exploding a Myth” StudentAffairs.com article

In the current issue of Student Affairs Online, I have an article titled “Exploding a Myth: Student Affairs’ Historical Relationship with Technology.” The contents and premise of the article should not be a surprise to anyone who is reading this blog. I’m very appreciative to Stu Brown, StudentAffairs.com’s head honcho, for inviting me to publish a regular article in Student Affairs Online.

I’d like to 2 points make about the article recently published:

  1. Del Suggs pointed out to me that I made at least one mistake in the article. In the article I write:

    Radio has also seen use as an civic engagement tool as demonstrated by a program hosted by Furman University’s Dean of Women where women students were given explicit permission to “stay up late” to watch and listen to returns from the 1970 presidential election (Furman University, 1970).

    Del correctly notes that “there was no presidential election in 1970, at least not in the United States. The election of 1968 pitted Richard Nixon against Hubert Humphrey, and the election of 1972 was Richard Nixon against George McGovern.”

    Guilty as charged, Del; that is definitely a mistake on my part. The document was in a folder labeled “1970” but the document itself is not necessarily from that year. The document explicitly says that the event was held on Tuesday, November 7, which seems to point to it actually being from 1972, and I should have caught that. The joy of working with undated primary sources, eh?

  2. In the article I also write:

    Many campuses began student-operated radio stations in the late 1940s but these stations were typically associated with academic units, primarily electrical engineering or broadcasting and journalism programs (Bryant, 1981).

    As I continue my research, I am becoming less sure of this conclusion. I’m not yet sure if I am running into a difficulty caused by a gap in the existing literature or merely my own ignorance. What is causing me to become unsure of this conclusion is that I have come across a number of documents from the 1960s and 1970s that indicate that, at least on some campuses, the student government organizations in residence halls played significant roles in creating and funding student-run radio stations.

    In the 1960s, students at several institutions began radio stations, typically serving only one residence hall by transmitting over the electrical wiring (“carrier current”), including the University of Missouri (NACURH, 1963), Kansas State University (NACURH, 1966), Long Beach State College (NACURH, 1965), the University of Missouri-Columbia (NACURH, 1974). The radio station begun in the residence halls at the University of Missouri-Columbia later became “the first totally student owned and operated FM station in the country” (p. 4, NACURH, 1997).

    These radio stations were owned and funded by student groups or associations (often the Residence Hall Association) and run during limited hours. These stations were described by students as important parts of their communication strategies (NACURH, 1965). A 1966 report of a NACURH group discussion of radio stations in residence halls concluded that “[radio stations] could be an excellent way of improving communication and publicity on residence hall projects and people” (p. 1, NACURH, 1966). At least one institution, Georgia Institute of Technology, began using sub-carrier and carrier current radio in residence halls in 1978, ostensibly with an academic focus (“any student who can afford an AM radio can have a language lab in his own Residence Hall room” (p. 3, NACURH, 1978)).

The work in these areas – student-used technologies in residence halls and the broader topic of student affairs’ relationship with technology – continues. The documents referenced in this post and in the article illustrate one approach I am taking to get at these topics. Right now, much of my work in these areas is focused on locating and analyzing primary historical documents located in various archives. The NACURH documents referenced above are one particularly rich as they are all student-written documents and I haven’t found many of those in the traditional archives I’ve visited.


References

Brant, B. G. (1981). The college radio handbook. Blue Ridge Summit, PA: TAB Books.

Furman University. (1970). Potpourri [newsletter]. Greenville, SC: Furman University. Furman University Special Collections and Archives, Assistance Vice President for Student Affairs 1974 & Before, Box 1, Communications with Student 1970 folder.

NACURH. (1963). Residence hall communication at the University of Missouri. NACURH Nation Information Center document 63.41. National Student Affairs Archives. NACURH box, folder 6-89 Radio Station.

NACURH. (1965). Communications – Where & why do they break down. NACURH National Information Center document 65.37. Bowling Green State University Center for Archival Collections National Student Affairs Archives. NACURH box, folder 6-11 RH Communication.

NACURH. (1966). Group discussion report: The campus radio station and the residence hall. NACURH National Information Center document 66.22. Bowling Green State University Center for Archival Collections National Student Affairs Archives. NACURH box, folder 6-11 RH Communication.

NACURH. (1974). KCOU 88.3 FM. NACURH National Information Center document N25G-74-006-02.

NACURH. (1978). Uses of sub-carrier radio in residence hall. NACURH National Information Center document N25G-78-003-04.

NACURH. (1997). KCOU and RHA – How poor communications helped members re-evaluate their needs University of Missouri-Columbia 22 May 1997. NACURH National Information Center N16-181.

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