In October 1938, the first issue of the Martlet’s predecessor, the Sentinel, was posted on a bulletin board in Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria College’s first home. Its mandate was simple:
To re-awaken the spirit that once animated the students to great achievements. To publish, each week, club activities. To arouse athletic enthusiasm. To dedicate ourselves, now and forever, to the liberation of Ursus kermodei [a white bear caged in Beacon Hill Park], swearing mighty oath to forsake this cause till tempus fidgets.
The Sentinel lasted only a month, and was replaced by the Microscope, edited by Harold Parrott, Ivan Mouat, and Pierre Berton (yes, that Pierre Berton). The publication, one that “magnifies everything; tells nothing,” claimed that “[their] circulation is so low that gangrene is setting in.” After 10 years, it was replaced by the Martlet on Dec. 3, 1948. In the last 67 years, the name is about all we’ve kept.
We’ve moved from typewriters and floppy disks to (barely functioning) Macs and Adobe InDesign. Our print newspaper now joins a responsive, WordPress-powered website with videos and interactive timelines, all promoted through our Twitter and Facebook pages. In the last few years, we’ve even welcomed a stringent fact-checking policy (imagine that). But does that mean we’ve grown up and left our shit-disturbing antics behind for good?
After all, our reputation has varied from an establishment paper written by men in starched shirts, to a radical leftist paper dumped in toilets for nudity on the cover. We’ve even thrown out a UVic president, only to apologize decades later. No one knows what’s in store for this 67th volume; that part is up to you.
Each year, we welcome new staffers and volunteers, trying frantically to recover from the brain drain while printing a paper of at least some consequence. We struggle with our beat-up voice recorders and shattered iPhones, politely shoving aside establishment media to ask critical questions like, “Rabbits or deer?” Occasionally, those questions lead to concrete actions. Our reporting saved part of Cunningham Woods from development, and pushed UVic to update the crisis information in all university restrooms, perhaps helping someone in need.
In our sections: News, Opinions, Features, Culture, Sports/Lifestyle, and Humour, we will shine a light on student issues; provide a platform for the marginalized; showcase Victoria’s best sights, sounds and tastes; keep up with our athletes; while figuring out how to marry quinoa with KD; and offer biting commentary or a hearty laugh to the brow-beaten reader.
And if we’re not covering what you want, you can write it yourself. Send us an email or a tweet and give us a piece of your mind. Countless coffee-drunk twenty-somethings, eager to see their byline in 6 000 papers around the city, have wandered into our offices, wondering what they can do. We offer column inches and feedback to aspiring writers and artists, sideline credentials to photographers, cameras to videographers, and all contributors an experience they’ll take with them to their next class or workplace.
To the students both curious and connected: thumb through our inky pages or the links on our Twitter feed. To the brave: find us in the SUB basement and say hello. Who knows? You might get a story out of it.