Then and now: society’s evolution and The Prospectus

Matt Moss

Staff Writer, Editor

Sixties and Seventies America is a realm so distanced not only by time, but societal standards. The Prospectus was born during this long-past age and hasblackviewwhite lasted to this day, with its pages telling the story of America’s cultural evolution.

The Prospectus’ first issue, published in 1969, is perfectly telling of the times. An article covering the debate regarding a lack of African-Americans on Parkland’s cheerleading team was complemented by “A Black View” and “A White View” on the debate, with the latter’s author making their thoughts on the then-recent national anti-segregation movement abundantly clear.

“…I think it points up a big problem in our nation today; the problem of how the Negro is going to fulfill his expanding role in our country,” Glyn Durston wrote. “It seems that America has come to legally forced integrations as an answer to the race problem. And a very important part of this legally forced integration is the establishment of quota for Negros in all parts of our society.”

Simply: times were different. That was acceptable back then; now, not so much.

The late sixties to the mid-seventies was the age of dissent. America’s nationalism quickly began to wane as the Vietnam War continued to claim the lives of young conscripts and the civil rights movement gave African-Americans a powerful voice.

Americans began to question in earnest the actions of their government and the validity of their own principles. The Parkland community

was no exception to this, as The Prospectus’ pages from 1973 are printed with articles concerning peace marches in Champaign-Urbana, a Parkland student government resolution to actively support anti-Vietnam
prezWar demonstrations, and a group of demonstrators from the twin cities joining Washington boycotts against president-elect Richard Nixon’s policies on
Southeast Asia.

Race and war issues found their way out of the limelight as the seventies neared their end.

Before moving on, first a timely point: With the Parkland board of trustees recently voting to increase tuition, reference The Prospectus’ Nov. 23, 1976 issue, which contains an article discussing the then-recent tuition increase.

In that year, the board voted to raise tuition 25 percent, bringing the hourly cost to a whopping $17 even. Compare that with today’s hourly tuition cost: $140.50—note that this number is not taking into account the 11 percent jump okayed by the board of trustees earlier this month.

America’s idea of what your dollar got you has changed just as dramatically as its norms and principles.

In ways such as employment concerns, times were not so different. An article from The Prospectus’ May 2, 1979 issue discusses the rising unemployment rate in Champaign-Urbana. In February of 1979, the unemployment rate was 1.4 percent higher than the average rate of 4.5 percent, causing alarm about the lack of available positions, particularly in clerical and construction fields.

In the eighties, the Cold War reentered the public eye in a way not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Communism and Western relations with communist nations was front-and-center in the media.

The Prospectus, in an issue from 1983, talks about Parkland faculty member Mary Jane Lohroff’s visit to the Soviet Union and red China, and the distrust she witnessed between the Soviets and Chinese.

Détente, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and the collapse of the Iron Curtain were all topics covered in The Prospectus throughout the eighties.

Backing up a couple years, one can catch a glimpse of the marijuana legalization movement in the pages of The Prospectus. An article dating to early 1981 proliferates the view of Thomas Difanis, then-state’s attorney for Champaign County, regarding the legalization of marijuana.

“States [sic] Attorney Thomas Difanis feels smoking small portions of marijuana is no more dangerous than drinking alcohol,” author Shelly Armstrong wrote.

Difanis is also said to hold that marijuana smoking is a victimless crime. Both of his stances have been echoed in recent years by supporters of weed legalization.

As the Cold War came to an end, the world took on a new form. The political environment changed greatly, and America no longer had that boogeyman to fear.

The idea of America as the world’s police took off in this age; interventions in Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans, et cetera, brought war veterans into the focus of the public. Concerns regarding the welfare of veterans were brought up in The Prospectus, as articles from the mid-nineties discussed Parkland’s own veterans educational assistance programs.

Just as Parkland today faces concerns regarding lower enrollment rates, Parkland in 1994 shared the same concerns. An article from Sept. 14 of that year cites Parkland’s enrollment decreasing by 4.6 percent. That decreasing trend has now become present nationwide.

Throughout the nineties and two-thousands, institutionalized racism, misogyny, and prejudice became hot-button issues in modern America. This has carried on into the present day.

Citing issues of The Prospectus from this semester alone, one can see numerous examples of the Parkland community tackling the aforementioned issues. Parkland’s administration and student life has taken steps to bring institutionalized racism and prejudice to the forefront of the community’s mind.

And The Prospectus has been a voice for students, faculty, and staff alike regarding these important matters.

No other news agency has—or cares to have—its finger on the pulse of the home of the Cobras. So long as the Parkland community continues to voice its support, even in these dark, money-strapped times, the paper will not be going anywhere.

As society continues to evolve—and as Parkland continues to be a microcosm of this evolution—The Prospectus will continue to watch and report, by the students and for the students.