The latest on-campus news, a humorous Word on the Street query, an editorial examining, and critiquing campus policies—these are but a fraction of the content that has made up the Miscellany News for the past 100 years.
At a recent celebration of its anniversary as a weekly, both current and six decades of past editors gathered at Alumnae House to reminisce over drinks and dinner. The campus newspaper veterans compared important stories of their day—such as national elections and the Civil Rights Movement—and told inside jokes about sleepless production nights, April Fools editions, and debates on the merits of hyphens.
Current editor-in-chief Chris Gonzalez ’15 told celebrants that he wasn’t sure whether it was “awe-inspiring or worrisome” that so many of the Miscellany News’ old collaborators were still so fond of their former labor of love.
“It really was the best thing I did in college,” said Jonathan Kang ’96, who also encouraged current staffers to resurrect the glory of the April Fools edition—he related one story in which the paper announced a new addition to campus: a Hooters restaurant.
While there were plenty of laughs at the celebration, many former staffers said that working at the Miscellany News had had a profound impact on their lives. For Dale Mezzacappa ’72, the experience led to a career with the Philadelphia Inquirer. During her time at Vassar, she said, coeducation was the talk of the campus, as was the Vietnam War.
“The Misc really set my life path,” Mezzacappa said. “I wound up becoming a journalist because of what I did at the Misc.”
During the tenure of Jessica Barron ’96, the Misc made its foray online (in 1995). It was an amazing experience, Barron said. “My enjoyment—and the learning I gained—during my time working on the Misc is most certainly why I pursued a career in online journalism,” she said.
Sherry Chayat ’65 said a campus initiative her freshman year, encouraging students to report on others for scandalous overnight visits from boyfriends, was a hot issue but soon gave way to the struggles that dominated the national consciousness.
“We were very involved in political rights and movements,” Chayat said.
A slideshow presentation of photos and quotes—memories from former and current campus newspaper staffers—played throughout the anniversary celebration at Alumnae House.
For Andrea Disario ’76, a favorite memory was centered on a famous alumna’s stage performance.
“I remember writing a review for the Miscellany News on one of Meryl Streep’s [’71] early performances on Broadway in 1976—the role of Flora Meighan in 27 Wagons Full of Cotton. Who would have known that she would develop into the icon that she is today?” Disario said.
For Wendy Knickerbocker ’70, a memorable moment was an interview with a jailed Timothy Leary.
“He was just as drifty as you’d think, and he gave a rambling interview. Leary’s thing at the time was that drugs were a religious sacrament, and he had founded a church on that premise. He asked me if he could come to Vassar to speak, and I said I’d try. Much to my surprise, Dean Drouilhet agreed, and he spoke at the Student Union in the spring. The Misc sponsored the event, and Leary met with the staff afterward. It was quite an evening,” Knickerbocker said.
--Photos © Vassar College-Karl Rabe