On September 9, 1965, Simon Fraser University officially opened its doors. There wasn’t much here at first — even the fourth wall of the Academic Quadrangle was still under construction — but one thing it did get very quickly was a student publication.
Printing its first rough, mimeographed, stapled-together issue on September 17, The Tartan was SFU’s “instant” student newspaper. It ran for six issues before the creation of a rival paper forced a merger for what would become The Peak.
While The Peak is the only publication that has survived, it was not alone in SFU’s early media landscape. For the first two years, the students also produced an extremely professional Yearbook which did not feature the typical pictures of the graduating class, but instead told the story of the year with photos and text which are to this day some of the finest historical records we have for the early years of Simon Fraser. There was also a briefly published monthly opinions-magazine entitled Compass which went beyond the capabilities of a newspaper and gave students a place to voice their uncensored thoughts on a broad range of topics.
Both Compass and the Yearbook faced the same demise due to one simple reason: lack of money. Since 1965, there have been countless publications which have come and gone due to funding problems. From the off-colour science newsletter The Purple Period, to Cheap Thrills: a magazine dedicated to “the unprogrammed exposure of what’s going on around us”, to SFU Komix: “the only REAL SFU comics”, to Vulcan Mail: “the semesterly magazine of The Gamesters of Triskelion”, as well as a number of literary magazines from The Peak and other student groups, SFU’s desire for broader and more diverse media has never been fully realized.
In 1995 however, in becoming fully autonomous from the student society, The Peak Publications Society was created. While the organization has grown exponentially since the society began, it has continued to attempt to do everything under one publication. While news has stayed as a consistent focus of The Peak, a lot of other writing has never had a permanent place. Fiction and poetry have never had a consistent home and long-form features have never quite got the space or spotlight they deserve either.
The new Tartan is an attempt to hopefully inspire an increase in a variety of publications and media at SFU. This special first edition of The Tartan magazine is not only a celebration of the milestone of SFU turning 50 years old, it’s a pilot for what we hope can become a regular semesterly publication. While it may end up being just another here-today, gone-tomorrow SFU publication, we believe that, with your support, The Tartan could be the start of something wonderful.