Sesquicentennial: Historically Opinionated: The Griffin’s Opinion Section

“The Griffin’s Opinion section did not always look like it does today, or even exist…While there were certainly opinion pieces in The Griffin dating back to 1933, there was no formal “Opinion” section.”

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The Griffin's opinion section's history can be traced back from Letter's to the Editor, to columns, and the opinion section as we know it today. Credit: Canisius College Archives

The Griffin’s Opinion section did not always look like it does today, or even exist. Before The Griffin, Canisius’s newspaper was called The Canisian, which ran from 1929-1933. The traditions of The Canisian were then combined with the progressive policies of the new Griffin newspaper. The newspaper featured traditional sections like News, a Features or events section, and Sports. But what about the opinion section? 

While there were certainly opinion pieces in The Griffin dating back to 1933, there was no formal “Opinion” section. The opinions of the newspaper have had many faces, including; “Letters to the Editor” (1933-), “Grief N’ Fun” column (1940-1958), “Thief of Bad Gags” column (1941) “Epistles to the Griffin” (1964-1975), “Viewpoints” (1983-2001), “Griffiti” column (1977-1999), “Lang’s World” column (1997-2000), “Dean’s Dogma” column (1998), “The Lighter Side” column (1998-2001), “The Underground” column (2014-), “Mission Hundred Days” column (2017-)  and others. 

Letters to the Editor date back to 1933, but one of the first formal opinion sections of the newspaper was “Viewpoints” appearing in 1983. Viewpoints, a section length column featuring opinions of students, professors, and others, ran for 19 years. In 2002, Viewpoints was renamed the formal “Opinion” section we know today. 

While the opinion section may not have always looked the same, the column has given voice, expression, an outlet, and even laughs, to those on campus. The beauty of the opinion section is that students can disagree with a topic in a public forum, and critically analyze why they believe their view is correct.

I always advocate for the opinion section when others downplay its significance, because the opinion section is really more a critical essay section than anything. Of course, there are some fun and lighthearted articles, we all need those, but when written well, an article can persuade, advocate, and bring awareness to events and people that otherwise may not have been written about. 

Much like an individual’s personality, there is a style to writing an opinion article. Everyone has unique perspectives and experiences that have framed their beliefs and lifestyles. The Griffin advocates for new voices in the newspaper, so that the campus community can have an open discussion with everyone. 

From women entering Canisius College and men’s anxiety over their growing presence in the educational field in 1961, to Vietnam protests, to Ronald Reagan’s environmental policy, the Cold War, Bill Clinton’s scandal, 9/11, and so many more, the students of Canisius have not been quiet (and we wouldn’t have it any other way). 

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