The Triangle’s 97 years: a brief history | The Triangle

The Triangle’s 97 years: a brief history

Photo courtesy of Ibrahim Kamara | The Triangle

The Triangle, Drexel’s independent student newspaper, has nearly a century of history and impact on campus and the surrounding communities. 

The first edition of the Triangle came out on Feb. 1, 1926, under the leadership of Thomas T. Mather. In the first edition, the editorial board made it clear they had worked hard to make the paper come to life. The founders of the paper thanked the Board of Trustees for providing the staff with the funding necessary to get jump started. 

They wrote, “The publishing of this paper is made possible through the Board of Trustees of Drexel Institute, who so willingly and graciously agreed to assist the editorial staff with funds. The staff takes this opportunity to thank the Board for its most generous support of the new enterprise.” 

Though the Board of Trustees of Drexel were crucial for the launch of the Triangle, since then the paper has operated under complete student management. Ad revenue, fundraising and alumni donations have kept the paper alive for 97 years — not without struggle, though. 

From the beginning, the editorial staff made their mission clear: “to encourage intelligent thought about vital things in which we as a group of young individuals are interested, as well as to foster a noble and lasting college spirit at Drexel.”

Triangle reporters have covered the impact of historical events ranging from World War II, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. In the present day, The Triangle continues to cover student activism with the Black Lives Matter movement, COVID-19 and the UC Townhomes Coalition. 

The newspaper has also covered decades worth of campus happenings and student life, ranging from sports games to concerts to local business profiles. In “Building Drexel: The University and Its City 1891-2016,” the first book to document all of Drexel University’s history, the Triangle is referenced nearly 40 times as a critical source for student life.

The term “Drexel Dragons” was first mentioned in the Oct. 17, 1928 edition. A Drexel football team victory was celebrated in the headline “Drexel Dragons Make Astounding Records as Victorious Team.” As it is now, Drexel’s school spirit was very low compared to other schools in the area in the 1920s. The presence of a Drexel football team contributed to  more acknowledgement of Drexel sports successes around the early 1930s. 

As former Triangle writer, Eric A. Zillmer writes in “Building Drexel,” “the football team was characterized as fighting like Dragons!” Clearly, the name stuck.  Zillner describes how “a Dragon logo appears on the jerseys of the men’s basketball team the next year. Before then, the school’s sports teams were­ known as the Blue and Gold, the Engineers and the Drexelites. But by the 1950s the sports teams were ­absolutely thought of as the Dragons, and Drexel’s identity only grew over the next de­cades.”

Drexel is also the only school to have a dragon mascot. Now, nearly 100 years later, the label is no longer reserved to sports teams. Instead, all Drexel students are described as “Dragons.”

An important Triangle tradition that dates back to 1941 is The Rectangle, the newspaper’s April Fools’ edition. As a DrexelNow article discusses, the Rectangle has featured headlines like “Uncle Sam Drafts Entire Drexel Faculty” and “Hagerty Library Scandal Exposes Porn Ring.” In 2015, President John A. Fry was edited to be pictured doing the annual Naked Bike Ride. 

Given that Drexel was the first university to require students to use computers, it is no surprise that the Triangle was one of the first student newspapers to have a website, with the first online edition appearing in the mid-1990s. This new format of opened the doors for students and community members to access content more conveniently. Triangle forums and the ability to leave comments on articles increased engagement and student interaction.  

In 2019, The Triangle stopped printing weekly for the first time since 1926. Former Editor-in-Chief Mike Avena informed the staff that the newspaper ran out of money. The Triangle decided to start a fundraising campaign called “The Triangle Week of Begging” (similar to the Drexel Day of Giving) to raise $16,000. 

Though this campaign helped the newspaper print weekly again, the pandemic shook things up once more. In August 2021, The Triangle stopped publishing. Due to the pandemic and remote schooling, Triangle print production screeched to a halt. The majority of the old editorial staff graduated, leaving The Triangle with little to no leadership personnel. 

Kiara Santos was named Editor-in-Chief in April 2022; she managed to assemble a team of former writers and editors to publish the first post-hiatus online edition on June 10, 2022. Print came back on Sep. 23, 2022 with a special Welcome Week edition. Since then, The Triangle team has managed to cover multiple important events around Philadelphia (such as the Made in America Festival, Gov. Josh Shapiro’s inauguration as well as the Obama, Fetterman & Shapiro rally) and bring back the journalistic spirit on the Drexel campus. On its 97th anniversary, The Triangle asks our readers to support us financially by donating to our campaign. We are glad to be a resource for people in the Drexel community while being completely financially independent since 1926!