The Insurgent Archives: What have we learned in 33 years? (nothing)

Rosie #history

At the end of 2021, I took on the task of organizing the archives of our previous publications. We had copies of issues for almost every single year going all the way back to the inception of the paper in 1988. While organizing these archives, I inevitably became pulled in by the radical history and scanned the contents of almost every issue within the boxes we had shoved into the back corners of the ROAR office to be forgotten.

Something that immediately caught my eye was the headline story of the first issue in our archives from 1989. The headline read “Homelessness a crime? Eugene Police increase campus patrols,” which immediately struck me as incredibly ironic given the fact that such a title could easily be a headline story on a 2022 issue of the Insurgent.

This raised an important question that led me only deeper into the depths of our archives: What have we learned and how have we evolved throughout the past 30+ years as a publication?

First Student Insurgent banner incarnation

For the oldest issue we could find on file (from 1989), the editors chose a simple format with the name of our org “The Student Insurgent” declared in a bold font at the top. Because print was the dominant form of news and media consumption prior to the explosion of the internet in the 1990s, the Insurgent did not need to rely on colorful eye catching art and was instead able to draw in readers with their bold headlines and small pieces of symbolism like the small drawing tucked in the masthead.

When contrasting the first publication of the Insurgent to the latest publication, I noticed many large differences between the two (aside from the obvious aesthetic differences). The first publication from 1989 sits at a modest 8 pages while the December 2021 issue is almost twice the size at 20 pages. This is of course due to the fact that when the first issue was produced, the insurgent was brand new, while in 2021, we have many years of pre-established cred to garner interest and submissions.

While not as flashy as our more modern installments, the older issues of the Insurgent still boast a creative spirit with drawings, poetry, and many other forms of art embedded throughout every single issue.

Various other incarnations of the banner

Though the style and formatting of the Insurgent has changed drastically throughout the years as the torch has been passed and each editing team leaves their own unique mark, the most important thing has stayed consistent: the Insurgent has and will remain a collection of radical voices coming together to address the most pressing issues.

Important themes that have held strong throughout the entirety of the Insurgent’s history are police reform, anti capitalism, anti-war, anti-colonialism, and the uplifting of marginalized voices.

Though there is frustration to be expressed for the fact that many of the stories printed in issues from over 20 years ago could be copy and pasted directly into a modern day issue, It speaks to the resilience of radical voices. The fact that we have been preaching the same things for decades without result in many cases is very indicative of the way the US and other western countries continue to ignore the voices of their people in favor of perceived economic benefit. However, if the increase in content over the past 30+ years is any indication, the radical spirit continues to burn and it only becomes brighter as more people begin waking up to the realities we face in the wake of late stage capitalism.

If we have learned anything in the past decades, it’s that while writing about inequalities and radical news is important to engage and ignite the radical spirit, it’s even more important that we do something with that fire.

Writing about action is not enough, we must engage the radical spirit in every facet of our lives if we want to see true change enacted and make sure the issues that we write about now are solved by the time someone wants to write another archive story 30 years from now.