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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Letter to the Editor: Alumni share their memories of Lower Freeborn

To the Editor:

Re “Eulogy for The California Aggie newsroom” by Eli Flesch (guest op-ed, Jan. 10):

Reading your column made me remember what a great experience it was to work on the paper, and it sounds like nothing has really changed.

Back when I was an Aggie reporter, I remember coming across an old UC Davis Magazine article about the staff of The Aggie and the history of the paper. There were several “alumni updates” describing the experiences of newspaper staffers from many decades ago — 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, etc. What struck me was that the experience working for the paper seemed universal. Even though they were on staff 40 years ago — and technology and actual newspaper production had changed — the overall experience of working there seemed to have remained pretty much the same. Their fondness for that time and place really shone through in their comments.

So it was good to read your column and see all the familiarity in it, now that I have graduated and become one of those “past staffers.” (Time flies, somehow.) And I also remember being down there sometimes wondering about what happened there years and years ago. There was a lot of history in that place.

The environment in the newsroom was fun and kind of addicting. In my time there, I made some great friends and learned a lot about writing, editing and managing content that ultimately helped me launch a career in communications. Wherever I was on campus, I couldn’t wait to ultimately get back down to talk to my friends in the newsroom and work on the next story.

I’m sad to see Freeborn go and, with it, all the history of the place. But hopefully the tradition will live on in some other location where new memories can be made.


The writer was The California Aggie features editor in 2009. She currently works in communications for the State of California.

To the Editor:

Your op-ed accurately depicts the strange yet inviting space that is the Aggie newsroom.

I will miss that room and the ancient equipment and cameras.

There’s a sweet nostalgia attached to that basement. So many long nights and relics of a staff that spanned far beyond us. Very bittersweet.


The writer was one of the California Aggie photo editors from 2014-15. She is now a media marketer and a professional photographer.  

To the Editor:

The Orgasmatron cracked me up. I wondered if they kept it when photographers went digital.


The writer wrote a column called “Widening Gyre” at The Aggie from 1997-9. He is currently the director of addiction medicine for the state of Minnesota.  

To the Editor:

Your op-ed described the timelessness of that college newsroom experience. “A college newsroom is a place where people think with integrity about hard topics and respect different opinions.” True that. We had a lot of fun there, also.

One night, after I put the next morning’s paper to bed and was closing up the shop, Jefferson Starship was booked to play in Upper Freeborn. I apologetically asked two gentlemen talking at one of the desks to leave so I could lock up. I realized later that one of the men was Craig Chaquico, the Starship’s guitarist. Serendipitous moments such as that one seemed to occur frequently in Lower Freeborn.

So many of the good folks who worked with me there wound up as professional news people, a fact that always amazed me because UC Davis had no journalism education program (oh, occasional mass communication courses in the Rhetoric Department might have some relevance, but otherwise, none). Before The Aggie, I had been general manager of KDVS, before that I was news director, before that a general reporter and occasional DJ (“Radio Rob”).  So I spent a lot of time in Lower Freeborn.  

Those memories mean more to me than most anything else about going to school at Davis. The Shields Library used to do the coolest thing: present the departing editor-in-chief with a bound copy of all that year’s Aggies. I have two of them, of course, and I treasure them.


The writer served as The California Aggie’s editor-in-chief from 1976 to 1978, graduating from UC Davis in 1978 with a B.A. in history. He retired in 2018 after 36 years of practicing labor and employment law in San Francisco. He now lives in Walnut Creek with his wife, who also graduated from UC Davis in 1978 with a BS.. in applied behavioral sciences and in 1979 with a multi-subject teaching credential, near their two children and one grandchild.

To submit a letter to the editor, please email opinion@theaggie.org.


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