If you are reading this article, something has been accomplished. That is, we, a staff of nearly 20 venturesome students, have produced the first issue of The Cipher (December 12, 1997, Vol. 1 No. 1). We hope to continue producing further issues, but it’s as much the students’ decision as it is C.C.C.A.’s decision.
We began this project last summer. After studying different alternative media newspapers and magazines throughout the country and college campuses, we decided Colorado College should be alternative media’s next station. […]
So, here we are. Hours, days, and weeks later our first issue is out, but the life of this paper rests in all of our hands. Will the students of Colorado College and the members that represent their interest take the venture to sustain the life of The Cipher, or is this a not-so-beautiful tragedy in the making?…
Twelve years after Brian Nichols wrote this letter requesting the support of the Colorado College community for a brand-new publication, we, a new generation of editors, want to thank you for hearing his plea. In that spirit, we bring you 3D Cipher, a series of events and activities all over campus designed to inspire, intrigue, and excite the student body that has been doing the same for our publication for over a decade. Check out the schedule on the inside front cover.
We also decided to publish a “Best Of” issue, but we should warn you now that the title is a bit of a misnomer; we probably should have called it “Some of the Best Stuff,” or “Things We Really Liked.” This issue does not represent every year of the Cipher, nor does it represent the selected years equally. And of course, it doesn’t represent what other editors would have chosen; like every new issue of the Cipher, this one represents the tastes of the editors who did the choosing.
We picked these articles for a variety of reasons. Some held information worth looking back on from a current perspective (“Active Consent” p. 14, “Lost: Identity – Found: Rank #26” p. 38). Some were particularly well-written (“Rig Sick” p. 30, “Queer Labeling” p. 47), and some were especially entertaining (“Freedom of Expression” p. 48, “Anna’s Diary” p. 34). The Cipher has also gone through extensive aesthetic changes over the years; for that reason, we scanned all of the articles to maintain their original formats.
So why did we publish this issue in the first place? For the editors, reading the magazines from years past has helped us to get a little closer to answering our favorite question: what is the Cipher? We generally say that it’s an alternative news and arts magazine, but that doesn’t really acknowledge the extent of the variety inside these pages. And, more problematically, it doesn’t acknowledge the most important aspect of the Cipher: whatever it is in one issue does not define what it will be in the next.
In reality, the Cipher has been in a constant state of metamorphosis since its conception, as the evolving mission statements on the following page demonstrate. What began as an alternative newspaper became a ranting radical leftist magazine, which then became a cheeky, sarcastic venue for student voices, which gradually became a forum for investigative reporting and commentaries on local, national, and international issues as well as pop culture, art, and the college itself. It’s always difficult to explain what the Cipher is today because it bears the traces of all these past incarnations, and any five-word descriptor closes off the many possibilities that our magazine holds.
We hope that the “Best Of” issue will remind our readers that this magazine strives to host the widest possible variety of campus voices. If you don’t think there’s a place for you in our pages, it’s only because you haven’t written for us yet. Write to us, write for us, write at us; we want to hear what you have to say. And if you read the Cipher, and like the Cipher, and even have something to say about its future, then apply to be an editor. Applications are available at the Worner Desk, and are due back to us either by email or to the Worner Desk by December 2.
We hope that this block you have the chance to write, think, listen, read, and doodle on behalf of 3D Cipher. We’ll see you around campus and we hope that you’ll see yourself in these pages.
Oh, and thanks for making sure that our story wasn’t a tragedy, beautiful or otherwise.
The Cipher editors