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The Carletonian

An explanation and an apology

<pes of transparency this article will be an explanation. More importantly, though, in hopes of forgiveness this article will be an apology.

On that note, before I say anything else, I want to send out my deepest and sincerest apologies to Robert Stephens and every other member of this community who was offended by what was published in the opinion section, also known as the “Viewpoint”, in last Friday’s edition of the Carletonian.

To me, transparency is one of the most important aspects of any governing body, so now that I am the future president I want to be as transparent as possible. Here it goes…on Thursday, February 12th, I found myself in an incredibly uncomfortable position. I was the editor of the opinion page of the school newspaper, while also a candidate in the CSA elections that were in process. Articles for the “Viewpoint” are due at 5pm on the Thursday before an edition comes out but, at 5:15pm I had nothing. I went off to a Board of Trustees event, followed by dinner in Burnsville, and then the recording of a KRLX piece. When I finally got into the newspaper office, around 8:30pm, I had articles in my inbox. After reading the articles that had been sent in and noticing that they were all CSA-oriented I felt ill at ease laying them out, due to my position on the CSA and in the elections. I expressed those concerns to my fellow editors and was encouraged to separate the politics of the election from my job as an editor – to lay out the articles we receive.

With the exception of one submission at the beginning of the term that was forwarded to me after I had done most of the layout, and was thus out of room on the page, I have printed every opinion article ever submitted to the Carletonian since I became an editor. Every week I impartially print the differing opinions of my fellow students, and last week I truly thought, as my coworkers encouraged, I could separate myself from the politics on the page. As much as I believe I succeeded in doing so, I realize many people do not see it that way, and for that I am truly sorry.

Looking back, I should have just left. I know that now but, as the saying goes, everything is 20-20 in retrospect and I am so sorry about my choice to stay. Throughout the night I solicited the help of my fellow editors in the layout and titling of the pieces, as well as drafting emails and pulling a platform off the CSA website in hopes to create a better balance on the page. Clearly, it didn’t work. I cannot express in words how earnestly I thought that this would help, not harm, how the opinion page was viewed last Friday.

Let me take a brief pause here to clear one other thing up, if I had walked out of the room on Thursday night at 8:30 that article would have still been printed. The only thing that would likely have changed was that no email would have been sent giving the opportunity to submit articles to the Carletonian and no platform would have been printed (I still don’t know if this would have been good or bad).

Anyway, back to my explanation and transparency, I, along with my fellow editors, read the article and there was no discussion about whether or not it should even be printed since it was clearly an opinion piece and that’s what the page is meant for. Here is where I think the whole thing fell apart. I read it, as did the other editors, and did not see it as a character assassination. It was, as we (and I) saw it, an aggressive critique of the campaigning techniques that someone heard were being and would be used. Others saw it (and now that certain word choices and phrases have been pointed out I can understand how it was perceived by many in a totally different light than my initial reading) as a blatant attack on the character of an absolutely incredible person. This was NEVER the intent that I, or the other editors, perceived when we read it.

But, I recognize that it definitely came off in a way that it was not intended to and it offended many people – that is what is important now. Intent no longer matters now the outcome is known. So, once again, I am truly and utterly sorry for all of this. And I hope, more than anything, that people will eventually find forgiveness and understanding in the fact that I made an honest and genuine mistake and if I could say I’m sorry in any other way, I would. For now, though, I just have this article to say it and I hope that it conveys how awful, terrible, and regretful I feel about this whole situation and for every party that is involved.

I think one of the most important things to do now is figure out where we go from here and how we make sure something like this does not happen again. During the senate meeting on Monday we discussed a number of ways to take action on this situation. We are creating a task force that will examine elections and the role that the newspaper should play in them. I have had, and will continue to have, discussions with the editors about when an article should or should not be printed in the “Viewpoint” and about making sure that editors know that they can choose what to put in and what to leave out of a newspaper issue. We are also looking into the possibility of setting guidelines for candidates about appropriate ways to campaign. And I would, personally, like to reevaluate the current system and timeline for CSA elections.

I believe it is incredibly important that we take something from the unfortunate events that have recently transpired and find a way to ensure that they do not happen again. I hope that, through open dialogue and constructive conversations, all concerned and involved parties can work this out and move forward from where we are. I want to say sorry a million times over and I want you all to know that these are my most honest and sincere apologies. Please also know that if you have any further questions or concerns that you would like to discuss with me, I am open, willing, and hopeful to hear and address them.

Finally, I would also like it to be known that I have resigned as Viewpoint Editor so, in the future, there can be no perceived conflict of interest between me and the articles published in the “Viewpoint.”

-McKay Duer is a third-year
student and CSA President-elect.

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