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Founded in 1932 at the end of the Great Depression, the University of Adelaide student newspaper On Dit aimed to truly represent and record student opinion, activity and social life.
Taking its title from the French expression roughly translated as “we say”, On Dit soon became the official organ of the Adelaide University Students’ Union. It assumed a more political aspect after 1934 tackling issues of student governance and representation, religion and culture, labour politics and socialism, the growing threat of fascism and war, and the movement for peace.
Publication ceased from 1941 until 1944, following political controversy surrounding the support of Elliott Johnson, the President of Students’ Union, for workers’ strikes which were seen as contrary to the national war effort, plus internal dissent regarding the funding of the Angry Penguins magazine. Controversial issues covered by the newspaper continued to attract litigation and also threatened closure in 1944 and in the 1960s. In 1947 On Dit was transferred to the Student Representative Council, now the Students' Association of the University of Adelaide.
Determined not to follow the plight of its predecessor, the Varsity Ragge, which had perished due to student apathy, the editors of On Dit encouraged contributions from associations, sports clubs and individuals, and devoted considerable space to letters of controversy, criticism and praise, always flavoured with irreverence and humour. Student artistic and literary efforts found expression in the Adelaide University Magazine.
On Dit’s name has remained unchanged, except for special issues and occasional protest variations, such as the change to Heresay in 1972 in protest at French nuclear testing in the Pacific. Its pages also reflected increasing student involvement in political causes from 1964 onwards, particularly the Vietnam Conflict, apartheid in South Africa, nuclear energy, and the plight of Australian Aborigines.
On Dit is the second oldest student newspaper in Australia and remains a unique chronicle of University of Adelaide history and community.