Copies of The Pioneer Log and Sacajawea's Voice from the Lewis & Clark archives. Photo by Aidan D'Anna

Sacajawea’s Voice: The Pioneer Log’s former rival

After 42 years of continuous news monopoly, The Pioneer Log was finally rivaled as Lewis & Clark’s only student-run newspaper by a publication entitled “Sacajawea’s Voice.” Publishing its first issue on Nov. 15, 1984, the Voice was started by students who felt The Pioneer Log was publishing “only one angle,” and they sought to provide another perspective.

The first issue of Sacajawea’s Voice began with an epigraph, quoting the 1984-85 Journal of Lewis & Clark College. 

“The real worth of a liberal education is measured by a student’s ability to achieve perspective — to see life from many angles, to penetrate surfaces, and to recognize quality when it presents itself.”

Beyond the desire to simply provide “a critical look at all angles of the problem,” students created the newspaper in response to rising tensions between then President James Gardner and the school’s faculty. According to Sacajewea’s Voice, tensions began when Gardner vetoed the unanimous faculty decision to offer tenure to sociology professor Mary Dunn, allegedly on the basis of her political affiliations. 

During that same year, a committee consisting of the president, nine administrators, three undergraduate faculty, one law student, one undergraduate and two members of the Board of Trustees were given two years to come up with a new “mission” for the college. Due to vague goals and an unclear focus, the committee was essentially exactly where it started two years after its convening. 

The only thing to come out of their sessions was the proposition to dissolve the LC Graduate School; this idea was opposed by the faculty with a vote of 86 to 24. President Gardner then brought a second, revised motion to the table, calling for the transition to a “semi-autonomous” graduate school. This term was never defined, and the faculty opposed the revised version by an even larger margin of 90 to 26. 

At the end of the two year period, fully aware that the faculty were not in support of the new mission statement, Gardner submitted his version to the Board of Trustees without informing them of the lack of faculty support. On May 21, 1984, the new mission statement outlining plans for the new “semi-autonomous” graduate school was approved by the Board and immortalized in the Lewis & Clark College Constitution. 

In June of that year, while the faculty were away, Gardner created the semi-autonomous graduate school and appointed himself interim dean. Faculty, though upset by Gardner’s actions, felt they could not speak out against him for fear they might lose their jobs. Instead, upon their return to campus for the Fall 1984 semester, the faculty called for an emergency review of the president to be conducted by the faculty as a body.

The Sept. 27, 1984 issue of The Pioneer Log featured a front-page article headlined “Procedures sought for review of President.” The article describes the creation of the aforementioned mission committee as well as the process in which the faculty intended to review the president. Though the article does not explicitly take the side of President Gardner, it does undercut the faculty’s decision to not comment without acknowledging their fear of getting fired.

The Pioneer Log took the side of the student body, stating that students “(have) expressed resentment about being so ill-informed about what has been happening between the faculty and the president.” The article then quotes the opinion of one student who was “not sure the Board of Trustees and the faculty have the biggest stake in this — we’re the ones who are paying the tuition.” 

The Nov. 8, 1984 issue of The Pioneer Log features a staff editorial entitled “Governance question lies at root of tension.” This editorial questioned the faculty’s decision to put President Gardner under review by stating that “The Pioneer Log questions whether an assessment outside of the institution-wide evaluation and vote on confidence is the best way to approach this issue.” 

The editorial goes on to say that because the faculty have refused to make their claims against Gardner privy to the students, they essentially have no right to hold this evaluation. 

Exactly one week later would mark the publication of Vol. 1 No. 1 of Sacajawea’s Voice, and it would continue monthly and eventually semi-annually for a total of thirteen issues until 1988, the same year Gardner resigned as president.  

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