A Letter to the Editor: The “Opinion Section” of the 40s and 50s

Monmouth University was once known as Monmouth Junior College (MJC). As a junior college, many of Monmouth’s present-day accolades were still in their developing phases, one of which was The Outlook. For example, there was no formal Opinion section at this time; instead, Monmouth community members would submit a “Letter to the Editor” if they wanted a specific idea or issue published in the paper. Although the Opinion section was not yet established, its purpose was: Opinion would serve as a platform for students and faculty to make their voices heard and potentially effect change.

On February 12, 1959, Alan R. Schoonmaker submitted a “Letter to the Editor” arguing why Monmouth should offer a book exchange. The letter reads, “Most of the college students whom I consulted would like to purchase used books and sell their old ones. As present, due to the absence of any organized exchange system, it is often impossible to do so.” Well, good news Schoonmaker, we finally have a book exchange service! Students can sell back their used books in exchange for cash at the Monmouth Bookstore, located in the OceanFirst Bank Center. In turn, other students buy these used books at a lower cost. However, the need for this service is much less now with the advent of delivery services like Amazon, who offer books at an even lower price than a used book from the bookstore.

Meg Smith, a junior nursing student, agreed, “Originally, participating in the on-campus book exchange service was beneficial because it was cheaper and I got my money back. Now that I’ve been a student for a while, I realized there wasn’t much benefit to buying and selling at the bookstore because I can get more for my money in other places.”

Sarah Eidelman, a junior communication student, elaborated further, “A drawback to buying from the Monmouth bookstore is definitely the price. The bookstore is so much more expensive than Amazon or Chegg… I always opt to check other websites and use the Monmouth bookstore only as a backup.”
Some things never change. Schoonmaker continued, “I feel that the prices at the campus bookstore are higher than necessary. I do not think that a college should have such a commercial pricing policy.” Over half a century later and Schoonmaker’s concerns are still prevalent today. While one Letter to the Editor doesn’t guarantee change, it does, at the very least, start a conversation.

Now that you see the influence and impact the average individual’s opinion can make, especially when backed by evidence, we invite you all to share yours.