Among the student activities, which were under the control of the student organization, was the student paper, The Spectrum, started in December 1896. At that time, the editor in chief and the business manager were elected by popular vote of the students. Beginning as a monthly paper, with faculty contributions, it became a purely student publication by the end of its first two years. It remained a monthly until 1907, when the student organization requested it become a weekly. Its policy was to give both sides of any question, thus supplying a forum for student opinion and its own editorials. An extract from the very first editorial in December 1896 reads: “We wish to acquaint the people of our state with what we have been doing along the different lines of study. It is also the aim of the management, that by glancing back over the separate numbers of this monthly, we will have before us practically a complete history of the institution of that period.”
In 1915, the students adopted the commission form of government and the Student Commission published The Spectrum. The Commissioner of Publications, elected by students, appointed the editor in chief and was responsible for the publication of the paper.
An editorial in The Spectrum of March 3, 1922, started an attempt to change the name of the college. A test ballot conducted by The Spectrum of March 31, 1922, resulted in a vote of 234 favoring North Dakota State College, eight favoring North Dakota A&M College, 14 for A&M, and six for North Dakota Agricultural College. It was revived again in 1926, when the question, “why should the college be named after a course which embraces only 13 percent of the total college enrollment?” was asked. Statistics from the registrar’s office revealed that of 843 students taking college courses, only 114 were enrolled in the College of Agriculture.
An editorial in The Spectrum of Oct. 8, 1954, suggested a change of the name of the college in order to meet the industrial changes of the state. North Dakota State, or North Dakota State College of Applied Mechanic Arts and Agriculture numbered among the suggestions.
All of this led to student government picking up the ball and, in the spring of 1958, President Hultz presented a petition, signed by 84 percent of the student body, asking that the North Dakota Agricultural College be changed to North Dakota State University. Editorials continued in The Spectrum to campaign for the name change. In 1960, the proposal was placed on the November ballot and passed by a vote of 153,409 to 73,827.
The Spectrum of Oct. 15, 1902, announced that since the number of students on campus could not be accommodated all at one time in the chapel, daily chapel would be abandoned after Nov. 1, 1903. It became a weekly.
The football record for the first 15 years of the college is found in one of the first issues of the weekly Spectrum.
A women’s basketball team is mentioned in The Spectrum of April 15, 1901. “One thing our institution stands supreme in, and that is our undefeated ladies’ basketball team. It has successfully met on the field of athletic honor every form and shape of feminine aspirants for athletic laurels and to them all it left naught but defeat.”
The Spectrum became a twice-weekly paper in the 1970s and while there have been occasional efforts to shift it back to a weekly, editors and writers have strongly opposed such action. The Board of Student Publications has been in place since 1968.
In 1990, the Spectrum staff members, led by Editor-in-Chief Denise Schlegel, walked out of the Spectrum office in opposition to a nearly 50 percent cut in the Spectrum’s budget, proposed by student government. Not one issue was published that year.
This eventually led to an arrangement agreed to by student government, The Spectrum, and NDSU President Jim Ozbun that funding for the operations budget of The Spectrum be allocated at the rate of 1.125 pages per issue at the current advertising rate of The Spectrum. It can be renegotiated every two years. It was approved by Student Senate on April 12, 1992 and the Board on April 29, 1992.