Downstream: A history of student media at UCC

Published by Robin Bailey on

Two students stand, one rests his head against his hand, and watch as another student mimeographs the student newspaper. They are in casual attire.
In “Impressions”, a 1968 yearbook made by the student media, newspaper staff were pictured in the student activities section.
Old magazine clipping of "The Umpqua" student newspaper. It features the faces of three men on the bottom. The text at end of the magazine page reads "The first college newspaper, May, 1965"
The front page of “The Umpqua” was featured in “The Timberman Times” 1983 issue celebrating UCC’s twentieth anniversary. The Timberman Times.

In short: yes and no. This is the fiftieth issue of “The Mainstream,” which led us to assume we had been in operation for 50 years, but upon examination of the archives we have discovered that student publications started in 1968.

The miscounting has been due to the fact that — with every new name for the UCC student publication — the staff would start again at Volume One, Issue One. Fifty years ago, “The Timberman Times” published its first volume and issue, but before “Times” there was “UCLA Press,” “Splinters” and “The Umpqua.”

“The Umpqua” was the first newspaper produced in 1965 at UCC, two years before the first phase of campus construction was completed, according to a 1983 article from “The Timberman Times” commemorating the college’s 20th anniversary.

Man casually sits down with his hands on his lap. He is wearing a long sleeve buttoned up shirt and a vest. He looks up at the camera with a unsure glance.
Jim West advised student media for five years and later served as dean of students. He held this position until 1981, when he died in a car accident. The Timberman Times

“Splinters” published five volumes under advisor Jim West, with at least four iterations of student editors: Trish Bonebrake; Marilyn Curtis; co-editors Beth Hubbard and Richard Newton; and Willow Yuninger.

Even in its nascent age, student media commented on campus culture and sought to bring positive change where students saw fit. In the first issue, an editorial column called “Irish Comments” published a short piece urging apathetic students to “begin here at home by improving the morale in this school.”

“In the student lounge, people mutter over their cigarettes that the college is dull; with no social life,” the column says. “When someone asks you where you go to school you sneer, ‘Umpqua College.’

“Sure, our school is small, it’s just beginning. But it is soon going to be one of the most beautiful community colleges in the Pacific Northwest.”

This publication took its name, Umpqua College Late Afternoon Press, from the college’s first phase of construction when UCC held late afternoon and evening classes in Roseburg High School and other rented-out facilities — thus nicknamed “Douglas County’s UCLA.” Joe Brumbach and, later, Todd Adams served as student editors.

A hand-written editor’s note from Brumbach is featured in its first printed edition: “This paper will be a blend of news and the voice of the students. The next edition will come closer to what we want.” This sentiment is echoed even today in our mission statement — and, always, in our hopes for a better paper every issue.

Older man sits down at his desk. He is smiling and wearing a dark vest and stripped bowtie. An old fashioned typewriter is on a shelf behind him.
Seabron “Seabe” Calhoun advised student media for 11 years. The Timberman Times

From asking students’ perspectives on nuclear power, editorials opining for the Equal Rights Amendment and simply publishing the goings-on of campus life, “The Timberman Times” carried on the legacy of student media under the tutelage of Seabron Calhoun, who advised for 12 years. In order, the student editors were Adams from the “UCLA Press,” Judy Reece, Ruth O’Neill, Sonia Wright, Susan Rochester, Denise Cornilsen, Pat Conley and Rise Cleary.

During this time, student media reported on growing societal tensions, like those between loggers and environmentalists in a 1975 editorial titled “Environmentalists Have Something to Say,” which leads with the killer question, “Kissed any axes lately?”

“This is a problem we in Douglas County are going to have to face up to sooner or later,” staff writer Phil Robbins says, “and it won’t be easy.… It’s my feeling that anyone who can climb a peak in the Cascades, look west, and not be bothered at the sight of all those clearcuts must be wearing rose-colored glasses.”

Portrait image of Bill Duncan. He is glancing to the left with a slight smile. He is wearing a dark suit jacket and black tie with a white shirt.
Bill Duncan advised student media from 1986 to 1992. The Mainstream

In a letter to the college’s president in 1984, Cleary, the current student newspaper editor, proposed a name change from “The Timberman Times” to “The Mainstream” for these listed reasons:

“1. It’s a nicer looking flag. 2. It is an all-encompassing name, rather than the biased slant toward the lumber industry. 3. It promotes a more progressive look for UCC. 4. It isn’t sexist. 5. Overall, it just appears more up-to-date and broad range.”

Diane Williams looks backward at the camera with a bright smile.
Diane Williams co-advised with Duncan until he left and then solely advised student media until 1993. Sarah Harter / The Mainstream

After Calhoun, advisor Bill Duncan started in 1986; Diane Williams joined him in his final year and remained until 1996. “The Mainstream” alumni Sonia Wright began in 1993 alongside Williams as technical advisor, later assuming Williams’ position up until 2002 when current advisor Melinda Benton took over. 2024 is Benton’s final year — with no advisory replacement in sight at this time.

See the second part of this series for a closer look at our history from 1984 onwards.

Contact me at:

For more articles by Robin Bailey, please click here.