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Spring 2001

 

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My Radical Past at Chico State
In 1974 and 1975, I worked on The Wildcat, which was the official college newspaper. At that time, the radicals had completely taken it over and were using it to support many of the causes described in your article ["Chico's Radical Past: Protests and Political Awakening, 1965–1975," Fall 2000 Chico Statements, pp. 11-13].

Chico needed some solid radical reporting, and The Wildcat provided it. In addition to the articles mentioned in your story, they covered a number of other, lesser issues. They exposed a fraternity invitation that stated that guests should "bring their own hunch buckets"; this incensed the radical feminists, and many moderates as well. There was a professor who had a class called "Sociology of Survival." He took them on an overnight camping trip and got them lost to see how they managed to get back (it was a survival class; what did you expect?). Two of them sued to have him dismissed. I even remember the staff discussing setting a speed trap for Bernie Richter [1931-1999, former county supervisor and state legislator], but I don't think they succeeded.

I supported some of those causes and enjoyed having a radical newspaper, but I wasn't as radical as some, and I tried to maintain a sense of moderation. I'm sure they considered me marginally useful. Still, it was a real honest-to-Buddha newspaper, and they were publishing my work and even paying me a bit for it.

Meanwhile, I took a class in newspaper management as part of my journalism curriculum. Our first order of business was to start a newspaper so we'd have something to manage. A newspaper has to have a name. We spent an entire class session before settling on my suggestion. I was an astronomy buff at the time, and I suggested we call it The Orion.

The rest is history.

In retrospect, I suspect the machinations of the Faculty Senate. They hated The Wildcat, and were probably in on The Orion project from the beginning. Meanwhile, The Wildcat staff seem to have ended up at the Chico News & Review. I remember working for Robert Speer at The Wildcat; the last I heard, he was in charge of the News & Review [ed. note: Speer left the paper in 1996, but returned in 2000.]

Mike Bechler, ex-Wildcat staffer
B.A., Information and Communication Studies, '76
E-mail:
mbechler@iwv.com

 

More Radical Past
I enjoyed Barbara Alderson's "Chico's Radical Past" in your Fall 2000 issue, but found it insubstantial, like much reporting on the era. The significant history of Chico during that period, and students' and teachers' roles in it, involved the hard and sustained work of building organizations, not participating in demonstrations.

Alderson mentions the Chico Children's Center as a legacy of the activism of the era. There were many other such groups, including the member-owned Chico Natural Foods store, the Feminist Women's Health Center (a spin-off of the Chico Neighborhood Health Center), the Chico News & Review, the Butte Environmental Council, Rape Crisis Intervention, the Community Legal Information Center, and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

These groups, and others like them that have come into being since, have added greatly to the life of Chico and Butte County. They are the true legacy of the era and the living manifestation of the desire to create a better world that characterized it.

Robert Speer, Chico

     
   



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