“It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story.”

Native American Proverb

O-Wa-Ki-Ya” is a Native American term meaning “to cause to write.”

In the early 1930s, MSU’s Writing Club, composed of aspiring journalists and–to quote an article from 1934–“other varieties of scribblers,” created the O-Wa-Ki-Ya, an annual publication sponsored by M.S.U. that contained the best of the feature articles, short stories, one-act plays, poems, informal and formal essays written by the members of the Writer’s Club. It was the only published literary effort of its kind.

The Owakiya had fallen by the wayside by 1965 and was replaced by the Midwestern State University Quarterly. Another incarnation of the publication, called Ahimsa, existed at some point between 1965 and 1969.

In 1975, the Press Club brainstormed and created the first issue of  Voices.  Editor Kathy Weber and faculty advisor Tom Hoffman combined student art and literature, faculty essays, and newspaper publications in this first issue, which honored the inauguration of the new MSU President Dr. John Barker. It featured art and literature from 15 different departments on campus. It was financed by a $2,600 allocation from the MSU Board of Regents and was sold at the MSU bookstore, as well as other bookstores within the city. In 1977, the Student Publication series began.

Funding from the student allocation fees was cut from Voices in 1992, and a non-too-small crisis of existence threatened to relegate Voices to the dusty shelves of the archives. A strained relationship between the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Voices staff led to tension on campus for those involved. By 1993, corporate contributions from Mr. Jim Lonergan, then publisher of the Wichita Falls Times and Record News, in the amount of $1,200 and a personal contribution of $3,300 from  MSU President Dr. Louis J. Rodriguez saved the almost-sinking ship, and Voices rose back with a vengeance. Student editor Jean Hall had to scramble to get together a publication in half the time they usually had. Still, she had ambitious plans, including opening a literary contest to area high school students, increasing marketing, and making the magazine more creative and, thus, more visually appealing.

Voices has had to wrestle for funding for several years, often coming in at the bottom of the list of priorities when the Student Allocations Committee is deciding where to invest the students’ money. Despite this fact, Voices remains stubbornly and steadfastly the only permanent forum for students on campus to express themselves freely through their inspired artwork, original writings, and other artistic endeavors.

In its first 15 years of publication, Voices won 12 state awards from the
Texas Intercollegiate Press Association  for overall effort and for individual categories of student entries. For several years, Voices was not submitted to competition. In 2006, its competitive spirit was revitalized and was awarded the following at the 2006 T.I.P.A.:

* 1st place–short story
* 2nd place–cover design
* 3rd place–general excellence
* 5th place–overall literary magazine sweepstakes

The same year, four entries from Voices were presented to and received great praise from the 2006 Student Conference for Research and Creative Arts at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

A blind jury panel system was installed in 1994, meaning that the editors choose anonymous jurors to make the first cut in submissions; then the editors choose from the jurors’ choices and assemble the magazine. All of these editorial choices are made without knowledge of the names of authors or artists. Names are added only after the layout has been completed.

For its first twenty years, Voices was published in black and white. The transition in publication layout from black and white to color began in 1995. The cover of that year’s Voices was done in sepia tone. In 1998, the first full color cover was published. A two-page, color insert for fine art materials was included in 1999’s Voices, and the publication has only broadened its colorful spectrum since, evolving to include several pages of color artwork.

Professor Gary Goldberg was the faculty advisor for all art contributions until 2010. His dedication to selecting and photographing outstanding student art work has given Voices its stunning visual appeal for several years. In 2010, editors were surprised when they received art submissions from students themselves, which increase art submissions by 50 submissions. Professor Goldberg remains a vital supporter for the editors and continues to select artwork from the art department. In 2012, Professor Jennifer Yucus was asked by the editors to help them form a jury for the art submissions that they received from students outside of the art department and an “internship for credit” for graphic design students. Some of those who rallied to help Voices in the past–with supplies, layouts, adjustments, the running of the shop, and more–were Gerald Williams, Angie Lewis,Clyde Bennett, and Jim Henson.

Dr. Hoffman was the faculty advisor for Voices not only in 1975, but from 1983 to 1992. In 1977 and 1979-1982, Professor Jim Hoggard was faculty advisor. From 1993-2004, Dr. Robert Johnson oversaw the publication. Assistant Professor Sue Henson has been faculty advisor since 2005. And now, Assistant Professor John Schulze is the new faculty advisor; he is expanding the reach of MSU’s Voices beyond our our campus and Wichita Falls by accepting student submissions from Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

Student editors of Voices have been as follows:

1977-Russell Hill,
Sue Vernon
1978-Diane Hooten
1979-Donald Eubanks,
Wolfgang Richter
1980-Douglas Beck,
Connie Cooper
1981-Lois Sullivan,
William Payne
1982-Michael Dowd,
Laurie Stroh
1983-Dale Tisdale
( MSU’s 60th anniversary)
1984-Dale Tisdale
1985-Eloise Splawn Kerr
1986-Eloise Splawn Kerr
1987-Freda J. Fuller
1988-Freda J. Fuller
1989-Lloyd Henry
1990- E. Maurine Joyner
1991- Sonny Armstrong
1992- Jannett Theriault
1993- Jean Hall
1994- Jill Ross
1995- Susie Burks
1996- Jason Welch
1997-Jeannette Richmond
1998- Kimberly Tucker
1999- Erin DeCuir
2000- Nick Bagherpour
2001- Heather Goodwin Tarman
2002- Maria Ifcic
2003- Freda Fuller-Coursey
2004- James Cochrane
2005- Paige Dickerson
2006- Elizabeth Bourland-Hawley
2007-Christian McPhate
2008-Christian McPhate
2009-Joel Morrow, Darylie Williams, Lauren Miller, Mary Yehle
2010-Adam Henson, Breanne Sill
2011-Adam Henson, Breanne Sill
2012-Adam Henson, Breanne Sill, Ruth Black; Web Archivist-Jaron Judd
2013-Editor in Chief- Breanne Sill; Assisting Editor- Ruth Black; Editors- Cody Parish, Andi Wisdom, Alexis Desire, Mike Winters, Talor Kindig, and Kendell Penington 2014- Editor-in-Chief- Talor Kindig; Assisting Editors-Ginger Bartush, Cody Parish, Kendell Penington, Mike Winters, Bee Quesada, Caitlin McNeely

2007 was the 30th anniversary of the student-run Voices. Publications can withstand the test of time, and Voices is proof of that.

“Our lives begin to end
the day we become silent
about things that matter.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.