In 1994, to celebrate The Courier’s 900th issue, Joe Churcher wrote a brief history of the paper’s first forty-six years. “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” he quoted, before pointing out that students in the 1990s faced far greater financial hardship than their 1940s counterparts; the poor lambs had maintenance grants that were no longer quite enough to cover their full living costs.
Aside from a shift from grants to loans, the other big change since 1948 has been the introduction of the internet and social media. In 2016 the prospect of NUS disaffiliation was politely debated on Yik Yak and Twitter, but in earlier times these battles were fought on The Courier’s letters page. Now that yesterday’s chip paper is today’s archive, we can look back and see that the NUS, student loans, student apathy, student accommodation and the name of Mens Bar are not new controversies – these debates have been raging for generations.
Another constant is the experience of producing The Courier. Rather wonderfully, the archive provides glimpses into the private world behind the public publication. This quote from 1979 could just as easily have summed up the two years I spent on the editorial team thirty-five years later:
“There are many people who live in the Courier office, occasionally commuting to the Men’s Bar, home or lectures, but essentially basing their lives around the Courier office. It’s a nice safe haven in the middle of the Union for convivial chat, drinking, eating, swearing and sometimes trying to get a paper together.”
I’ve based almost all of this on the papers themselves, and my own experiences working on The Courier. Clearly, this is only one side of the story, and if you have anything to add, correct or query, please get in touch.