As we celebrate The News-Letter’s 125th birthday, it seems crazy to think that we have been up and running since 1896 and that we have covered everything from the everyday shenanigans of Hopkins students to earth-shattering global events and movements that have impacted the present day. I went through the archives of The News-Letter’s website, which go back to 2001, to find some of the weirdest, most interesting and most important headlines covered by our predecessors. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and read what the Hopkins community has been up to over the past couple decades:
1. Orgasmic Chemistry, 2003–2006
Did you know that The News-Letter used to have a column dedicated to discussing all topics and issues related to sex and intimacy? Well, neither did I until I stumbled upon multiple pieces while going through our archives.
A play on everybody’s favorite Organic Chemistry class, Orgasmic Chemistry was a column authored by News-Letter alum Jess Beaton. In addition to some of the usual topics with intimacy, she also responded to questions sent in by fellow students. Though Beaton is not a medical professional, her column seemed to be a hit among students and was a regular addition to our publication from 2003 to 2006. Some of the topics she wrote about range from public displays and affection to condom selections.
2. “Howard Dean's Baltimore birthday bash,” 2003
In an exclusive, a News-Letter reporter had the privilege of following 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean at his birthday events while he was campaigning in Baltimore. Following Dean from a rally that Hopkins students attended in support to his birthday luncheon in the Wyndham Hotel, the reporter captured every detail of Dean’s celebrations and festivities, including when he blew out his candle.
3. Behind the scenes of frat parties, 2005
Before COVID-19, fraternity parties were often the highlight of some students’ weekends. It was a time when students could numb their academic concerns in order to bond, socialize and meet other students. But as students who would merely show up and attend these parties (if you had an invite, of course), did you ever consider the work that went on behind the scenes by the brothers guarding the door?
Back in 2005, some News-Letter reporters interviewed brothers of Sigma Chi, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Alpha Epsilon Pi to learn about the work that happens before the speakers are turned on and drinks are poured. While the brothers interviewed in the article are long gone by now, the energy and excitement created by these parties remain a constant even until this day. For now, however, we must be satisfied with reading old articles about partying — after all, we are still in a pandemic and need to follow public health guidelines. But soon enough, we’ll return to partying like there’s no tomorrow.
No Hopkins student can picture campus without the towering Brody Learning Commons, a place that is constantly brimming with activity even until the wee hours of the morning. But a decade ago, Brody was still at the beginnings of its conception as an extension to the Milton S. Eisenhower (MSE) Library, which had opened in 1964.
Meant to be a building that compensated for students’ misgivings about MSE, the administration made it a point to ensure that Brody had a lot of natural light coming in and gave students a place not only to study but also socialize with friends. The legacy of Brody continues until this day, and now students can look forward to new student projects initiated by the University, including a new student center and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute building.
5. Osama bin Laden capture, 2011
Student reactions to the Obama administration’s notable capture and killing of the FBI’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, were definitely a highlight of the newspaper’s coverage in 2011. Many in the Hopkins community and throughout the nation celebrated Obama’s capturing of a mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks as a leap forward in the United States’ War on Terror, while others were solemn — and it was all chronicled in The News-Letter’s archives.
6. “Hopkins memes: moronic or memorable?”, 2012
Long before memes were a staple in the present-day vernacular, the novel cultural phenomenon confused the general public back in 2012. Even now, it is still difficult to characterize exactly what constitutes a meme. But that hasn’t stopped millions of people around the world from generating witty content as a way to find humor in dire situations, like the pandemic, and to disseminate important information. At the onset of the Hopkins Facebook meme page, now known as Ronny D’s Dank Meme Machine, this student debated whether memes were an immature way of passing around information or a new instrument that was here to stay.
UniMini is a staple in the Hopkins community. In this article, reporters talked to the workers behind the counter to get a sober perspective on the weekend happenings inside the store. The UniMini employee that was interviewed even reported students stealing food from the store — so, current and future Hopkins students, please refrain from committing this crime and show some respect for this valued landmark!
Before the Hopkins confession wall and the meme page, The News-Letter was the source for all bizarre reports. This tidbit in particular perplexed the writer so much that she delved into the possible reasons as to why someone might bite another person. In true Hopkins fashion, she explores the innate nature of humans to bite, even going so far as to conduct her own observational study in MSE and develop theories on the subject matter. This just goes to show that Hopkins students will always find something to research.
9. “Secret Service attends Hopkins ethics course,” 2012
Who knew that Hopkins played such an integral role in the White House operations? Back in 2012, 100 Secret Service members attended an ethics course held by the Hopkins School of Education. According to the article, Hopkins has been the Secret Service’s official “university partner” since 1997. Hopkins has been providing training to the Secret Service since then, though not much information can be disclosed about this, understandably.
10. “Hundreds march in campus rally for Freddie Gray,” 2015
The killing of Freddie Gray in 2015 remains a symbol of the adverse effects of police brutality under systemic racism. Gray’s death, which a medical examiner ruled a homicide, was found to be due to injuries sustained while he was in police custody because officers failed to adhere to safety procedures. In response to this tragedy, the city of Baltimore erupted in a series of protests demanding justice. This became known as the Baltimore Uprising. To the disappointment of Baltimore citizens, all charges against the Baltimore Police Department officers involved in the incident were ultimately dropped. The News-Letter continues to reflect on these events, especially amid the George Floyd protests that began last summer.
As a result of this coverage, The News-Letter received the Pacemaker award for its work during the 2014–2015 academic year by the Associated Collegiate Press, a national organization for collegiate journalism. Many refer to the Pacemaker award as the Pulitzer Prize of college journalism.
To see older content from The News-Letter, check out the Sheridan Libraries’ digital archives of the paper, which date back to 1897!