Vassar Today

Vassar News that's Fit to Print

By Baize Buzan '10

As returning Vassar students make the trek back to Poughkeepsie each fall, they bring the experiences of the summer along with them — months in exotic cities or familiar towns, hours spent behind desks or among crowds, freshly accomplished ventures and newly formed relationships. For Brian Farkas ’10, the summer of 2008 brought him back to Vassar with a hefty amount of research and a 150-page manuscript — the first version of what would become his nearly 300-page book, Covering the Campus: A History of the Miscellany News at Vassar College.

Farkas, a history major, served as editor in chief of the Miscellany for the 2008-09 school year. His prior experience on the Misc — including stints as reporter and news editor — had exposed him to the dream, shared by many past editors, of someday digitizing the paper’s vast archives, allowing significantly easier access for scholars and staff alike. The idea was especially resonant with Farkas, whose time in the history department had taught him the value of such a rich primary source.

“Professors constantly argue that students can gain valuable and unique knowledge about the past by reading original documents and inspecting original sources with their own eyes,” says Farkas. “What better source than the Miscellany to see the world through the eyes of the constantly changing, ever-curious Vassar students?”

In an effort to generate enthusiasm for Vassar’s prized publication and to initiate support for the digitizing of its archives, Farkas set out on the massive undertaking of creating a complete history of the Misc. The research took over a year, six months of which were spent digging through files in Vassar’s Archives and Special Collections Library, navigating the paper’s history, and uncovering contextual information about the history of the college.

“To say that the project was time consuming would be an understatement,” Farkas lightheartedly recalls — he also spent time in the New York Public Library, the Columbia University Library, and Harvard’s Schlesinger Library to research additional information on the history of higher education and journalism.

The result, Covering the Campus, features an extensive narrative history of the paper itself, as well as photographs, reproduced cover pages and clippings from the Misc throughout its nearly 150-year existence, and personal anecdotes from its staff, ranging from the classes of 1937 to 2011. Self-published in March 2009 with iUniverse, the book is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Vassar College Bookstore. So far, more than 400 copies have been sold. All proceeds will go toward the Misc’s digitization efforts.

As for Farkas, after three years of service on the Miscellany’s editorial board, he is stepping down to serve as vice president of operations for the Vassar Student Association. “I will apply the deep knowledge that the Miscellany has given me about Vassar to serve the college,” he says. And even though he will no longer participate in the day-to-day tasks of the newspaper, the Misc will still rely on Brian as its new editor emeritus — a position that, according to Farkas, hasn’t been filled any time in recent memory, but seems most apt for the newspaper’s very own — and first — historian.

— Baize Buzan ’10

Photo Credit: Courtesy of iUniverse
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