The Daily Titan: The First Years

By Wayne Overbeck
Titan, Daily Titan Adviser, 1968-1973

A major transition began in 1968. The college was rapidly becoming a university and the Communications Department was growing. Editor Paul Attner and his staff decided to drop "Times" from the newspaper's name (and add "The") and publish "The Titan" three days a week.

A year later editor Bill Schreiber and his staff changed the paper's name to the "Daily Titan" and adopted a four-day-a-week publication schedule.

That was also the year that the paper moved into the then-new Humanities Building and settled in H-213--the Daily Titan's home for the next 32 years. And 1969 marked the beginning of on-campus typesetting and production.

When the Daily Titan was launched in 1969, there was unprecedented turmoil here and at hundreds of other colleges and universities across America. Students protested against the Vietnam War and the military draft, campaigned for justice at home and challenged authority as never before.

Colleges nationwide experienced huge protests after four students were killed by national guardsmen during a demonstration at Kent State University in Ohio.

Gov. Ronald Reagan responded by ordering all University of California and California State University campuses to close on a Wednesday for an extended weekend--or perhaps longer.

Even the Daily Titan staff was ordered out of its office and typesetting facility, forcing the staff to publish a very abbreviated edition, a highly unusual 8 1/2 inch by 14 inch two-page newspaper that was printed at a local copy shop. Normally, the Daily Titan, then in its first year of daily publication, was a standard-sized four to eight page newspaper.

At one point professors were told to assign grades based on work completed up to that time instead of attempting to finish their courses. Some profs said that was unfair or simply impossible and gave nothing but "A" grades as a protest. Eventually the campus was reopened and some final exams were held as scheduled.

Probably the event that led to the worst confrontations at Cal State Fullerton was an appearance at an academic convocation by Gov. Reagan on Feb. 9, 1970. He talk was disrupted repeatedly by hecklers, including a child in the bleachers who made a famous gesture of contempt.

As the unrest reached a climax, there were law enforcement sweeps to clear the campus of thousands of students (and faculty) who were protesting not only out of concern for the larger issues of the day but also about alleged abuses of the rights during previous campus demonstrations, including the protest of Reagan's visit.

At times the violent confrontations between police and students were recorded by photographers from the upper balconies of the Humanities Building. If anything like this were to happen in the Quad today, it would not be possible to take such photos for two reasons: the trees have grown so large that this planter area is mostly invisible from the balconies, and the upper balconies have been enclosed with grid structures to prevent suicides.

At least 40 students and two faculty members were arrested on campus during the unrest in 1970. Many other students and faculty members received what appeared to be unduly rough handling by police. The chant, "pigs off campus," was heard often.

The Daily Titan tried to cover the news objectively-thereby offending partisans on both sides.

Fall 1973 marked the end of one era and the start of another. I left California State University, Fullerton, for a few years and Rick Pullen arrived to take over as faculty adviser. Pullen was adviser until 1977 and served as head of the journalism sequence until 1991, when he became associate dean and then dean of the College of Communications.