1970s student tabloid reflected the times
Monday, May 12, 2014

(Editor’s note: The Old Gold series provides a look at University of Iowa history and tradition through materials housed in University Archives, Department of Special Collections.)

For time travel in reverse, nothing beats a stack of old newspapers for Old Gold. Bonus points if the newspapers are dormitory-based newsletters published by college students during a particularly boisterous time, like 1970 to 1972.

Read more Old Gold columns.

The times, they were a-changin’. In 1970, at college campuses across the country, restrictions on dormitory visitation rules were being relaxed if not lifted entirely. Governing boards, including the Iowa State Board of Regents, approved the concept of coeducational living space. Parietal rules once required students to live in campus-approved housing for at least a portion of their time as undergraduates, but those rules were coming under scrutiny as well.

In the midst of this climate of change came the biweekly Light-Eater—“Serving the University of Iowa Residence Halls”—stacks of a tabloid-style newsletter that appeared in the halls of Currier, Burge, Rienow, Daum House, Rienow II (before it was renamed Slater), Stanley, Hillcrest, and the Quad. Volume I, Number 1 hit the streets on Monday, Sept. 21, 1970, as “a new concept in student journalism…designed especially for dormitory residents.”

The premiere issue reported the opening of the new Iowa City Crisis Intervention Center, staffed by about 40 trained volunteers. An article on page 14 updated readers on the impact of the military draft, which was in place at the time due to the war in Vietnam. And, for the first time, students were informed that they could pay for a “wide range of University services with the Master Charge credit card.” Priceless.

1970 display ad
Ads for Hamburg Inn and Epstein’s Book Store, 1970.

Ads for Epstein’s Book Store and the renowned Hamburg Inn (both Numbers 1 and 2 were open at the time) appeared inside the back page, with a full weeks’ listing of prime-time TV shows on the four available local channels. Old Gold, who was in junior high at the time, guesses that Mod Squad, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and The Young Lawyers—all hip and relevant for 1970—were dorm lounge favorites.

Light-Eater was published for at least two years, possibly longer, with the last known issue in the Archives released in October 1972. It was a periodical published for academic credit by journalism students. Nancy Severa, a founding editor, noted, however, that its mission was bigger: “The Light-Eater is an academic project but only to a small number. More important to you, it can contain all the news that you are meant to have and need to have. [It is] a forum for crystallizing and directing all opinions.”

A nearly complete set of the Light-Eater is in the University Archives, Department of Special Collections, as part of its Student-produced Publications and Newsletters Collection (RG 02.0005.001). Stop in sometime and see what’s up with the next rap session in EPB, the latest music tracks at Cartridge City, or the half-off sale at Things, Things, and Things.