Biting the ‘Bullet’

09 Feb

“A Standard A-class senior college, member of the American Association of Teachers Colleges, ideally and strategically located in an atmosphere of culture and refinement, easily accessible to Washington, Richmond, University of Virginia, and other places of importance and note. Special emphasis on Commercial Education, Physical Education, and Music. All courses open to men on equal terms with women. Full information upon request.”  –M.L Combs, President (March 10, 1930)

At first glance the Bullet seems to be a great source of information when it comes to exploring the past, but in truth when the intent is to ‘recreate the classroom experience’ the Bullet misses the target. From 1930-1935 there are only twenty issues of the Bullet in the Mary Washington archives. While each issue is several pages long, most of the information contains articles on club/social events, and student written opinions, jokes and stories.

It is easy to look at the past and point out the flaws. It is not so easy, however, to receive criticism and grow from it. In an article printed on April 18, 1930 titled “Bullet Wins Fourth Place”, the school newspaper receieved an evaluation on the newspaper itself. The paper was awarded fourth place in a contest hosted by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. While the article does not mention how many schools were competing in the contest it does hint at the fact that there were larger schools included who receive more funds that help improve the other schools newspapers. The article continues by listing the positive and negative criticisms received.

       “Good Points: good poetry, good opinions department,attractive placement of feature articles, and clear cuts. Bad Points:   too literary for a newspaper, too much opinion and not enough facts in leading stories, nothing worthwhile about athletics, no features or human interest stories, humor, old material and poorly adapted.” (April 18, 1930, Front page)

The criticisms received about the paper were seen as educational and the writer petitions the student body, and Bullet staff to learn from the experience and to “get to work and do something about it”.

On February 26, 1932 the Bullet printed another article about criticisms received, titled “Student Opinion Requested By Bullet” . This time the Bullet staff requested constructive criticisms from the Extra-Curricular Activities class, (yes, there was an extra-curricular activities class!). The results from the request were perplexing. While some students asked for more humor and jokes others asked for less. Some students wanted more “serious” articles while others wanted less. The contradictions were numerous and overall unhelpful in aiding to the contents of the paper overall.

The Bullet is a work in progress and is only as good as the students who contribute to it. Every year the school dynamic change with the flow of students entering and leaving. This shift is seen in the Bullet and its changes over the years. While Bullet articles from the 1930’s focus mostly on social news, humor and club activities it is an accurate portrayal of the overall student life and experiences at Fredericksburg State Teachers College, aka our beloved Mary Washington.

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