It’s hard to imagine a time at McMaster when there was no hospital on Main Street; when undergraduates were counted in the hundreds, rather than the thousands; when there were a mere four buildings populating campus.
It’s both a humorous and humbling adventure exploring archival articles and photographs from back in the day, and has become a frequent pastime of Sil staff. So much has changed (or not changed) over the course of McMaster’s history, for better and for worse. This week, we wanted to share a piece of that history in the form of featuring throwback content in every section.
Perhaps most striking about these recycled pieces is how timeless they are in their continued relevance to student life, government policy and Hamilton culture. Behind the yellowed newsprint and antiquated language are opinions, issues and thoughts that still matter and deserve a second run of publication.
Such nostalgia is a powerful conversation starter. Personal connections and forgotten stories often find their way into the present when we spend a moment wondering about the past. If we hadn’t published last week about the vandalized White Lady statue – who she is and where she came from – I would never know that once upon a time, a toddler-father of mine once sat in her arms in a blue jumper (and that there’s photographic evidence, as pictured, to prove it).
It’s easy for memories like that to get lost in the passage of time, especially on a campus where student – and student government – turnover happens at an accelerated rate. What is particularly disheartening is when those fighting the good fight on any variety of issues don’t have long enough to accomplish their goals in such a short time here, and when the progress they started is forgotten shortly after their convocation date. Their concerns and campaigns are often reincarnated a brief time later – but only once the momentum has died and the advocates, representatives and leaders don’t have the context or history to pick up where others left off. They’re back to square one.
That’s why concerns that were raised 30 years ago about (and by) the SRA are echoed today, the same old opinions get written every year, clubs have continuity issues and statues remain – years later – sadly graffitied, former glory all but forgotten.
This is how it has always been, but not how it needs to be. Sometimes, it isn’t until we take a moment to look back that we can know more clearly how we want to move forwards.