This month in ‘Pioneer’ and Whitman College history

William Witwer

This Month in Whitman History

How much has life at Whitman really changed in the last 10 years? In the last 50? To find out, The Pioneer traveled back in time: or maybe just to the Penrose Library archives: and dug up some front page news from Octobers past.

New ASWC constitution proposed
On Oct. 2, 1969, the front page news story was about a proposed new Associated Students of Whitman College (ASWC) constitution presented to the student congress. It sounds dry, but it might surprise you: “The proposed constitution contains no specification as to the year or sex of any of the officers. Presently the president and both vice presidents must be juniors when elected, and the secretary and first vice-president must be females. The president must be a male. This discrimination or specification seems unneeded.” The constitution was passed later that year.

Writer Jack Anderson captivates crowd with humorous political rhetoric
On Oct. 4, 1984, the front page story outlines a humorous lecture on politics by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jack Anderson, discussing “the upcoming presidential election, American politics, the Soviet Union, communism, and government spending last Saturday.” Today, there is no Soviet Union or communism to worry about, but the other issues are exactly the same.

German Defense Minister Visits Campus
On Oct. 6, 1988, the front page story details a campus visit by a member of the German Defense Ministry the previous Tuesday. Deputy Chief of Policy Planning Dieter Mahncke argued that U.S. troops not be withdrawn from Germany: “Without this deterrent, he believes, West Germany could risk ‘Finlandization’; the Germans would be forced to acquiesce to Moscow’s political demands.” The troops were also there to prevent what he called “outright attack” in which the Warsaw pact apparently had the advantage.

Chinese speaker still absent

On Oct. 5, 1989, The Pioneer‘s front page story profiled the then-native speaker in the Chinese interest house, Jian Xu-Fai, in a riveting account detailing his failure to report to campus on Sept. 28, the day he was scheduled to arrive. Visa restrictions “brought on by violent civil unrest in the People’s Republic of China,” probably relating to the incident at Tiananmen Square, prevented him from doing so.

“Shangri-La” fire injures four
On Oct. 4, 1990, the front page report examines how a campus-owned house burned down in a fire. The was an estimated $40,000 worth of damage to the house, which was affectionately known as “Shangri-La,” and was leased to two Whitman students (Jason Jercinovic and Mike Berger). There were several injuries, and the building was too severely damaged to be rebuilt.

Armed suspect apprehended by campus security
On Oct. 14, 1999, there was a large front page story about an armed suspect who was apprehended by campus security. After a series of burglaries, during which a backpack, a leather jacket, a purse and two unnamed items were stolen from various people on campus, 20 rounds of ammunition were found in the garbage. Mike Austen, then a senior, found a .380 semi-automatic pistol in the grass the next morning.