“With this issue our new paper makes its first appearance. It is a new feature in Alfred life, but we sincerely believe that the advent of this paper is a mark of progress, a step in the right direction. Our University has for some time since felt the need of a real live student publication, to chronicle, pleasantly, from week to week, the events of interest to the student body, the alumni and our friends at large.”
And so began the Fiat Lux newspaper, first published on October 21, 1913; a publication that has endured for a century.
The campus certainly had publications prior to 1913 but they were not the typical news publications nor did they last very long. The first known student publication, The Literary Star, appeared on Oct. 27, 1855, almost 58 years to the day before the appearance of the Fiat Lux. Handwritten and not able to easily be mass produced, it only lasted a short while. Other publications came and went until students in 1898 felt they needed an outlet to primarily publish literary writings and started the Alfred University Monthly. It was in this journal in early 1913 that the first reports are found showing desire for an actual weekly student newspaper.
An editorial in the May 1913 issue argued for something different: “There is a place in Alfred University for a fortnightly newspaper. This University has sufficient social enterprises to hold a steady amount of space if properly written up and reported…. The result of the hustling of one man, our Junior Campus Reporter for the ‘Sun,’ fills considerable space in the local paper. The proper place for such material is in a college newspaper that is edited by students.”
Enough minds were changed that the following issue (June, 1913) proclaimed “THERE WILL BE IN OUR UNIVERSITY NEXT YEAR A WEEKLY NEWSPAPER.” True to their word, following the trend at many other colleges, a weekly newspaper appeared in the fall, spearheaded by Robert D. Garwood , the first editor-in-chief. The first issue, 8 pages in length, was called “The Alfred Weekly” and a contest was held for the honor of naming the new publication. The next issue, distributed on Oct. 28, 1913, announced “Our paper has a name.… The name Fiat Lux has been chosen as being the most distinctive, the most typically ‘Alfred.’” It was aptly named; the Latin phrase was chosen as the University’s motto in 1857 when the institution transitioned from the Alfred Academy to a full-fledged University. Meaning “Let There Be Light” it had long been a favorite creed of Jonathan Allen, the University’s second president and early supporter of equal education for all.
The University Archives has made the entire run of the Fiat Lux available in digital form and freely accessible online in the University’s digital repository. Feel free to explore this priceless chronicler of University history under the “Campus Publications” collection. May it continue strong for another 100 years!