Raiding the Traveler's Coffers
As the worst of the Great Depression waned, editors and business managers of The Traveler began to put back some money each year into a reserve fund with the aim of equipping a new office and possibly aiding the journalism department in purchasing a press for the university.
By 1935, The Traveler had about $6,000 in the bank when the president of the student government, Sidney McMath took notice. McMath, later a governor of Arkansas, proposed to take the money and create a student loan fund. The brazen move drew the immediate ire of The Traveler editor, Linus Williams, who criticized the move in both editorials and his weekly column.
That was the last equipment ever to be furnished to the Traveler office. Its other equipment consists of two scarred and ancient desks, a decrepit filing cabinet, and a rickety, nondescript affair full of pigeon holes that serves as a catch-all. There is nothing else.
With the addition of the new buildings here, space has been provided for a modern newspaper office. The plans are drawnup. The equipment has been listed. Everything is in shape for the harassed staff to have an efficient, commodious workroom, where it may produce a newwspaper worthy of a school as large as Arkansas.
Into this pleasing scene steps a politician who has made a spoils promise to spend the money in the publications reserve. He is not interested in what use is made of the money. He merely aims to make good his boast. When you go to the polls, be determined to vote for what you certainly deserve — a better newspaper and a better annual.
Williams also pointed out that six other student loan programs already existed at the University of Arkansas, and an editorial cartoon showed McMath holding a bag of loot. A follow-up reported that a list of "chosen few" students who would be in line to get loans had already been drafted in an effort to sway student votes toward the change. Pi Kappa and the UA Press Club came out against the change as well.
Results of the vote showed the margin to be only 24 votes out of 1,122 votes cast. Majorities in all of the colleges except the College of Agriculture voted against the measure, but the margin in Agriculture was high enough to secure McMath's proposal.
For the next dozen years, The Traveler staff members concentrated on spending all of its budget, but the student loan fund continued to grow, partly because the size of The Traveler was limited by the UA Board of Publications and partly because no student loans were ever made. In 1946, the UA Press Club submitted a resolution to the UA board of trustees to ask that the loan fund be used to finance a university press plant.
The board approved the change, but little changed initially. Two years later, the Press Club again lamented the need of new journalism facilities, especially a darkroom so that press photography could again be added to the journalism course list. Another two years passed, and the UA Board of Publications approved using the $58,000 to pay for a campus printing plant, with $46,000 set aside for a printing press and $12,000 for a Linotype.
Hill Hall, the former men's dormitory built in 1901, became home to the printing plant, the journalism department and the offices of the student publications. The first Traveler came off the new press on November 8, 1949.