Paper Trails


By Brad A. Greenberg '04

Published Jan 1, 2007 8:00 AM

(Left) May 10, 1972. Bill Walton (not pictured) participated in this demonstration against the Vietnam War. (Right) Jan. 18, 1994. Damage on campus from the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

"We feel very decidedly that we have passed that Cub stage."

The first issue of the University of California, Southern Branch's student newspaper was delivered Sept. 29, 1919. The top stories in The Cub Californian, as it was called, carried the headlines: "Old State Normal School Becomes Branch of U.C.," "Y.W.C.A. Offers Hearty Welcome to University Women" and "Many Distinguished Persons Now in Faculty." The faculty story began, "Dr. Cloyd H. Marvin comes to us from Harvard University, where he took his degree. He is chairman of the Commercial department." It almost goes without saying that the Cub had a much different attitude than the Bruin would. (It's also odd to imagine something called a Commercial department.)

It was initially a weekly, then twice weekly and in 1925, daily. Before U.C. Southern Branch adopted the Bruin mascot, the student paper changed its name to The California Grizzly. The logic was explained in this editorial from March 21, 1924: "It is not our desire to take on the outward accoutrements of a Grizzly if inwardly we are still in the Cub stage of growth. But we feel very decidedly that we have passed that Cub stage; we sincerely believe that the change of totem brings to us only what we merit as a result of our achievements as Cubs."

On the banner of the next issue, not only had the paper's name changed, but so had its location. No longer was it the "student publication of the University of California, Southern Branch"; it was the "student publication of the University of California at Los Angeles." Switched back to "Southern Branch" after two issues, it appears the students were leading the charge to distance the campus from big brother Berkeley by branding UCLA. The name-change gambit was quickly followed by another, more successful, attempt to influence, as the Bruin heavily promoted Amendment 10, a statewide voter-approved bond that financed the Westwood campus and moved the Bruins from Vermont Avenue.

But throughout its history, UCLA's student newspaper has butted heads with the administration as much as, and probably more than, it has marched alongside it.

"Clancy, are you a Communist?"

Conflict with UCLA administrators was most pronounced during the Red Scare, when the contention wasn't editorial wisdom but actual governance. Dean Milton E. Hahn did his darndest to root out any whiff of pinko-sympathy from Kerckhoff and constantly fought the Bruin staff's nominations for editor and managing editor, which back then were voted on by the Student Executive Council, a group some Bruin staffers considered university henchmen. Clancy Sigal '50 felt their attacks firsthand when the Bruin staff nominated him in 1949 for a second tour as managing editor.

"Wednesday night I witnessed one of the most revolting proceedings of my entire career at the University," Sigal wrote in a following column, quoted in "Loud Bark and Curious Eyes," an early history of the Daily Bruin by George Garrigues M.A. '70. "Wednesday night I saw the hand of the vigilante and heard the voice of the inquisitor ... When I entered the sacred chambers of Memorial room for my interview (!) by SEC, the very first question put to me was: ‘Clancy, are you a Communist?' "

A few years later came one of the most inspired bits of mischief. After the administration proposed that the entire student body elect the paper's editor in 1954, the Daily Bruin held a mock funeral for itself.

Not surprisingly, sometimes the exploits that aroused the ire of campus leaders were just raucous, like in 1929, when 13 staff members were suspended for their involvement in the semiannual — and precociously racy — publication Hell's Bells, according to "Loud Bark." Or decades later, when the Bruin published the photo of a student activist holding a sign that said "F--- Hate" — only his sign didn't drop the U, C or K. That decision stirred trouble, but nothing like in 1970, when the Bruin published a naked man and naked woman positioned on top of a grave. They weren't actually having sex, but the graveyard humor didn't, to put it mildly, go over well.