Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Letter from the Editor-in-Chief

<rletonian has received a lot of feedback, both positive and negative, on an article published over three weeks ago. The piece focused on campus conservatives and their opinions on campus climate and President Trump post-election. It was re-discovered early last week, quickly spurring some anger and criticism. In light of several conversations with other students and members of our staff, I, along with my co-editor-in-chief, decided to reiterate both the purpose of the paper and some important elements of journalistic practice on a college campus. Firstly, I want to stress that the newspaper is not retracting the article, and, as an editorial staff, we stand behind the piece’s publication. 

The majority of the paper’s staff and I disagree with a lot of the sentiments expressed by those interviewed in the article. Yet, much more important than our own political leanings, the mission of a campus newspaper is rooted in a continual struggle to expose members of our community to different perspectives and stories on campus. What right do I possess, as Editor-in-Chief, to decide which opinions are valid? When we begin censoring members of the community, simply because we disagree, there begins a dangerous trend. That being said, we will never publish hate speech or opinions that advocate violence.

If you pick up a copy of The New York Times or The Washington Post, you regularly read articles interviewing conservatives on their current feelings and policy stances, even if the majority of both newspapers’ staffs are liberal. Furthermore, to many on campus, the existence of these opinions within the student body and the conservative students’ feelings of ostracization was newsworthy. Reporting on opinions often forgotten by the majority of a community is the job of a campus, or really any, newspaper.  

Much of the criticism appeared weeks after the article’s initial publication, and many of those who are angry self-admit that they do not read The Carletonian on a regular basis. We find this very troubling, as post-election we have covered a wide range of campus voices on the topic, including student activist groups and those affected by DACA. We are working tirelessly to continue covering other groups impacted by the election, but we also acknowledge that this work will never be fully complete. It is important to recognize that the conservative view was just one voice discussed, a side often ignored on campus. Frankly, liberal opinions come to us, as they are the norm on campus, but finding students brave enough to voice conflicting viewpoints, both leftist and conservative, is difficult, to say the least. We strive to include these students because they often remain silent, they are members of our college, and, to put in bluntly, they are here.

I am the first to admit that The Carletonian is far from perfect, as we are not professionals. Our status as a student newspaper refers not only to the makeup of our staff but also to our desire to incorporate students’ thoughts and opinions into the paper. We want your feedback. We want your letters to the editor. If you think the political makeup of the paper is leaning too far right or left, the most impactful way to tip the balance is to write your side. Our doors as editors are always open to begin a conversation. As a staff, we are your neighbors, classmates, and friends. We are not hard to find, so please talk to us and not at us, as this strategy is unproductive and accomplishes little serious change. We have made some mistakes in our past and will undoubtedly blunder going forward, but we promise to continue working hard each week to create a student-focused, engaging and informative product.

Founded in 1877, we have a long tradition of remaining completely student-run and are the only independently-funded publication on campus, allowing us greater flexibility to cover controversial topics, such as conservative students’ thoughts post-election. After a meeting early this week, I learned that each person on staff dedicates time to the newspaper because they believe in the importance of hearing stories from those they would not normally engage with regularly. Some hope the paper can act as a forum for students to begin a productive and civilized dialogue. Others write because they believe in finding the hidden stories of Carleton. All of this is to say, we know that not everyone will agree with our content or like us, but we consider our role on campus as vital by providing information, sharing diverse voices, and acting as an historical snapshot of Carleton for future generations.

To add a bit of optimism, in addition to the dissent received from this piece, we have heard of classes using the article to spur conversation, panels forming to facilitate discussions on political differences, and liberal groups discussing how to interact with campus conservatives in a productive way. We believe in civil dialogue, especially in our politically charged times, and we are dedicated to making this paper the best it can be, while still maintaining our journalistic integrity and upholding our mission, even if it makes us unpopular.

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