Editorial: Building Bobcat Tradition

The Exponent’s first edition was published on May 30, 1895 with a front page article about the then president of Montana State College, James Reid. Since then, we have come a long way, from printing news articles on our front page to reserving the cover for a photo with a magazine-like feel.

Every week during the school year, we seek to report on the events on and around campus in the hopes that we not only give our readers the facts, but also provide a good and valuable read as well.

This week is National Newspaper Week, and while we would love to break into a monologue on how relevant and vital newspapers, and the Exponent in particular, are to the public, let us instead show you, through a story.

Prior to 1916, MSU — then Montana State College — carried the nickname of “Aggies.” In a move to separate Montana State from other institutions, the editor in chief and sports editor of the Exponent, Lester Cole and Fred Bullock, took it upon themselves to come up with an official mascot and hit upon the Bobcat.

To announce this decision, they printed the article that you see below on Jan. 7, 1916 and offered the additional argument that the bobcat “fit” because bobcats are, despite being small, respected by their enemies, have sharp claws and teeth and depend not “on brute strength alone but upon headwork and cunning.” To quote Cole, “Just try to softly warble that name, Bobcats. It can’t be done. You have to spit it out.”

We remain the Bobcats to this day, 96 years later.

The theme of this week is “Newspapers — The Cornerstone of Your Community,” and this is just one example of how the Exponent served, and serves, as that cornerstone. Make no mistake, we aren’t perfect. We print satire, review beer and poke fun at ourselves in the annual Excrement. Our corrections column and our readers keep us honest and hold us accountable for our quality.

At their best, student newspapers provide a foundation for the student experience and act as a force for improving the campus community. This is the tradition we seek to uphold here at the Exponent.