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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Why isn’t anybody writing viewpoints?

<st year was the first year I became involved in The Carletonian. I started by writing a couple of stories and copyediting every week. As trivial as it may sound, I found changing periods to semicolons and thinking of synonyms for “also” a fun and rewarding experience. Every week, sitting in the Carletonian office, I was continually impressed with the fact that I had input on a publication that would be read by peers, professors and parents.

In the spring, I was introduced to another stage of creating a college newspaper: layout. At times, dragging articles into cohesive order seemed the most logical process. At other points, I felt like it was an impossible game of Tetris. Thanks to helpful and patient editors, I managed to learn all I could and found myself involved with The Carletonian to a much higher degree this year.

For the past few weeks, I have been struggling as the viewpoint editor of The Carletonian. We have been receiving very few submissions, to the point that it has been a struggle to fill the two pages I am assigned. When I became viewpoint editor, I never imagined that obtaining submissions would be the hardest part of my job. After placing ads in the Noon News Bulletin, sending emails to political groups, and begging friends to write viewpoints, I have decided to directly address the Carleton community. I’ve come up with a few possibilities for the lack of input:

Is it that Carleton students do not feel strongly about anything? I highly doubt this is the case. Simply overhearing conversations as I walk to class or eat dinner is enough to assure me that are countless topics about which students feel very strongly.

Are students not confident in their ability to express their opinions in a manner suitable for publication? Once again, I do not think this is true. I believe most Carleton students do not lack academic self-assurance. Even so, the viewpoint section is not a forum for Peabody nominees; it is an opportunity for college students and staff to discuss matters that are important to them. I would hope that no one in our community would ridicule anyone for expressing their opinion.

Do students not have enough time to write submissions? I understand this argument. All students feel that our time is stretched thin between classes, homework, extracurriculars, sports, and whatever other impressive activities that Carleton students undertake. Yet if you had time to watch “The Office” last night, or watch that Sarah Palin SNL skit five times last week, or take a two hour nap on the couches on fourth libe, I think that point is negated.

I have one final explanation: there is absolutely nothing to write about.

This idea is pretty laughable. To start with, we are less than two weeks away from the most important election of our lifetime. And if a mere presidential election is not enough to spur you on, take aim at one of the ridiculous characters, the unprecedented fundraising, or the malicious advertising.

The global economic crisis is of great interest to the college, not only based on its implications for post-Carleton life but also how it directly affects us right now: changes in financial aid, buildings projects and study abroad plans.

If politics and the economy do not get you riled up, there are plenty of on-campus issues to write about. The Campus Climate Report illuminated many aspects of our community that need improvement, improvement that will only result from increased student attention and input. That almost half (46 percent) of respondents are aware or have observed harassment on campus is a statistic that should not bring about complacency.

Equally attention-worthy is the number of students that have been taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning this year as compared to past years. The number I have heard quoted, although not from an official source, are that 60 individuals have been transported to the hospital this term alone. In all of 2007-2008, the number of hospitalizations did not even approach this scale.

I have faith that the Carleton community is intelligent and opinionated. As the school’s student-run newspaper, The Carletonian is the ideal outlet for opinions and discussion. Despite countless issues arising within the college and the world at large, the viewpoint section has not been utilized to its potential. I strongly encourage everyone to use the viewpoint pages to share their opinions – right wing or left wing, optimistic or pessimistic, serious or eccentric.

All submissions are welcome, 500 – 900 words. Email howelle.

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