Based on the number of gossip columns covered in this historic review, it is safe to say that Hillsdale may have had a bit of a gossip problem in its past.
This didn’t go unnoticed by the students of Hillsdale College.
Dating back to 1939, The Collegian has been stuck in a cycle of printing gossip columns and then printing articles complaining about those columns.
An article entitled, “Let Gossip Take a Holiday,” printed on Dec. 12, 1939, an anonymous student wrote in, “Your thoughtless words do more harm than you can imagine, and there is no injury that can’t be averted through one moment of thought.” Thinking before speaking? What a novel concept that has yet to be implemented.
In an article called, “Watch Your Step Rumor Monger,” printed on Oct. 13, 1955, Jack Jardine described gossips at Hillsdale, writing, “They derive some queer sort of pleasure from being able to say something scandalous about other people. If they can’t find anything in the present that seems shocking enough to furnish juicy gossip, they delve into the ancient history for their malicious material.” That quote is tough to work with because that is in fact the word-for-word purpose of my column.
Jardine clearly knew me well, because he continued writing, “These people are thoroughly convinced that every silver lining has a built-in black cloud and go through life looking for the clouds, blindly closing their eyes to any goodness that might be around them.”
On Feb. 24, 1977, Ayn Cabaniss wrote an article entitled, “Gossip fills our Hillsdale Campus,” saying, “Gossip appears to be the most enjoyable sport around. Any form of back-stabbing is acceptable as long as the story can be exaggerated and blown into a full fledged scandal.”
She continued, “How many times have I been sitting in the union or Saga and heard outrageous comments made about roommates, suitemates, professors, or whatever else can be thought of. I would just as soon listen to a bunch of old hens as to overhear these conversations.” While in the rural Dale, that actually is a plausible option.
Cabaniss wrote, “I realize that there is not a whole lot to do in the town of Hillsdale, but there must be better things to do than talk about other people.” Once again, tough to agree with that statement when I literally spend my days searching through the archives for thirty-year-old gossip.
Andy Kaplan also hopped on the complaining about campus gossip train on Nov. 4, 1982, writing, “Hillsdale, besides being known as a fine independent college, should also hold the title of, ‘Gossip Capital of the World.’ The old cliche about the three quickest ways of communication gains new meaning at Hillsdale. They are: telephone, telegram, and tel-a-student.” Remember when these were the only ways to gossip about people?
Seven years later, on Nov. 30, 1989, Julia Maloney wrote an article entitled, “Rumors Spread like Tumors.” She wrote, “Rumors seem to cover Hillsdale’s campus faster than the snow. It seems that the students here thrive on a tad-bit about their fellow students’ personal lives.”
She continued, “At a college of this size and one this conservative, rumors appear to be one of the few things which still unify the student body. We may not know everyone personally, but usually a name can be matched with a face. So, once the identification is made, the rumor is ready to take off.”
There is no true gossip column in The Collegian anymore, so these complaints seem to have paid off. However, college kids will be college kids, and it is doubtful that gossip will ever fully be eradicated from this campus.