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Photo via Seton Hall Archives.

April Fools! From the Setonian

Tell-tale jokes and obscene levels of sarcasm sum up the first day of April. Riddled with warning titles of “April Fools’ Issues,” the on-and-off tradition of the Setonian falling on April 1 and occasionally the last issue in March was short-lived. 

After 100 years of articles covering everything happening on campus, it is time to reflect on the mere 11 issues spanning from 1956 to 1981 that attempted to confuse students on the largest gaslighting holiday. 

Editions from afar appeared like every other; however, when taking a closer look, writers' and editors’ spunk showed through and something was off. 

On Sunday, April 1, 1956, the Setonian’s very first “April Fools’ Issue” was published with a glaring headline “No School During April” on the front page. The edition celebrated the centennial year of Seton Hall as an institution founded in 1856; however, the Setonian newspaper began later in 1924. 

The edition included a heads-up editorial that laid out precautions on the “humorous vein” style of writing intended to make students laugh according to the “First to Fool” section on the second page. In this section, the editors explained that the advertisements and the sports section were untampered, along with consent from the slanted articles' subjects. 

The issues combined graphics and exaggerated writing in articles and headlines to illicit entertainment. This connection was seen in the article “Parking Problem” in the first edition, which combined a photo of an upside-down car with solutions to the lack of parking on campus.  

While this was the first publication, the staff and editors of the Setonian had been working on such an idea before where previous editions did not make it past the copy room, according to the editorial. The issues were clearly labeled as specific “April Fools’ Issues” and editors explained to the reader to not take the articles for complete truth.However, it is shaky on the effectiveness and protection of the Setonian from students who are “fooled.” 

Following the success of the first issue, the second “April Fools’ Issue” debuted Monday, April 1, 1957, this time with the headline “University to Become Co-ed.” The edition continued jokes found in the first issue such as the article “Seton Hall Library to Be Converted into a Garage,” which continued the joke about parking problems. It also introduced new joking articles like “Phi Beta Frat Sends Pledges to Far Lands,” which included a photoshopped person falling off a building hinting at what pledges had to do for the fraternity.

For the third year in a row, the “April Fools’ Issue” found its way back into the hands of students on Tuesday, April 1, 1958. Once again, the editors placed a note called “Tradition Continued” on the second page that highlighted the success of the previous years. The edition included empty spaces, joking about the ability of the paper itself by having a story for the space but ‘losing it.’ 

The third issue was the last time the editorial staff wrote a warning piece about the premise of April Fools’ editions. After the third issue, the tradition became spotted and consistency fell. There was not a 1959 issue, but it was picked up in 1960 for its fourth issue. Once consistency was cut down, the tradition was lost and issues became shorter in length. 

With the purpose of “fooling” the public with stories that twist the truth, it is no surprise for the inconsistencies in publication. Since new editor-in-chiefs took their place every year, they had their ideas on what fell under the journalist's role and opinions on the newsworthiness of such issues. These initial problems were continued with the need for student popularity towards the project; the lack of which did not help in continued annual publication. 

With another year's break in 1961, the fifth issue rose in 1962 with a confusing layout, beginning without the newspaper name but with “ZET.” It was unclear what day the issue connected with as the date changed midway through before transitioning to “This is Setonian for Real!” The edition demonstrated the confusion the “April Fools’ Issues” present for readers as they attempt to decipher between real and fake articles. Plus, the difficulty in timeliness with such editions as they must go up the issue before April 1 or the day of. 

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After the confusion in 1961, the “April Fools’ Issue” was not published for six years until 1969 with the sixth issue. Another year break in 1970 with the seventh issue in 1971 claiming the front-page headline of “Solves all problems: Building complex planned.” The issue was not published again until 1975 with one page of content for the eighth edition. Then, every other year an “April Fools’ Issue” was published: the ninth edition in 1977 and the 10th edition in 1979. 

The end of the humorous spun issues occurred in 1981 with the 11th edition. The edition had a different title than the Setonian, calling it the South Orange Enquirer. In comparison to every other “April Fools’ Issue,” the pages were plastered with black, bold confidential tape saying “Exposed” as well as the inclusion of nudity and scandalous graphics over topics not correlated with the Catholic direction of the school. With stories such as “Seton Hall Goes to Pot” which hits on the use of marijuana, a different aspect of April Fools’ was captured in the timestamp of the 1980s.

While the editions were entertaining, they highlighted the shift towards a blurred line between journalism and entertainment. The question of whether this hinders or helps journalists’ purpose in telling the truth to inform the public presented the ethical issues that clouded the aspect of these “April Fools’ Issues.”

In the combination of such concerns and the quite graphic final edition in 1981, the fun yet questionable additions were put to rest.

Calla Patino is a writer for Campus Life. She can be reached at


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