Dear Nexus Staff,
I am still recovering from the brutal town hall meeting to discuss the Nexus that – while accomplishing nothing at all – might have sent you home with the feeling that you have done your good deed of the day. Yet, I can already picture myself tomorrow dreadfully picking up a copy of “our newspaper” and having nothing but horrible expectations.
So far, you have been able to shield yourself from the opinions of your fellow students by brandishing the banner of free speech. Though you may not be true journalists, you sure have learned a few things from the crude world of the media: There is no better way to avoid the issue than to divert attention and there is nothing as exciting as the debates sparked over the First Amendment. However, I beg you not to confuse your rights with your privileges, and maybe while you are at it you could consider how your rights are still privileges to some.
While you have the right to formulate all sorts of offensive opinions, you were granted the unmerited privilege of writing for the UCSB “newspaper.” You should try to honor this responsibility by making “our newspaper” into more than just a chat room on bigotry and freedom of speech.
If any of you have the high hopes of making it into the world of journalism, you should start listening to your readers as of today. In real life, when real journalists upset their readers at the rate that you have been upsetting students, they get fired. So I ask you this question: Is your first loyalty to the students? Because it should be. But then, if it is, are you and I talking about the same students?
In a column by Courtney Stevens (“Don’t Get All Up in My Grill, Brother,” Daily Nexus, Nov. 21), she wrote, “political correctness is the natural upshot of this [white] ‘guilt’ and utilized as a way to address the stigma of whites as ‘racists’ that history has imposed.” Now, if this sentence alone makes me shiver with shame – and I am white – what feelings do you think it evokes in a student of color when a columnist in his school newspaper refers to racism as a stigma imposed on white people? And that is only one example of some of the things that I do not want to see in “our newspaper.”
But if we students have no way of stopping you from publishing your personal opinions in “our newspaper,” no matter how repulsive they may be, who can? Why do the A.S. representatives come out looking like tyrants for finally representing those students who the university press fails to represent?
So, the ultimate dilemma is: Do you see the problem and what are you going to do about it?
Since I thought you might need some suggestions, I prepared a few. How about proofreading each other, or maybe replacing a racist opinion piece with nothing less than a news article for a change? Or, how about suggesting to Courtney Stevens that she limit her opinions on race to her personal blog? How about getting the Weatherhuman out of his or her cave so that women may face who’s insulting them? Maybe you could even go so far as to pretend that you are real journalists and adopt a code of ethical standards?
Interestingly enough, neither the Weatherhuman nor Courtney Stevens seemed to want to defend their stance by coming to the town hall meeting and facing the readers whom they have offended. And though the Editor in Chief Kaitlin Pike did utter the words “our fault” on one occasion during the meeting, I have the strange suspicion that it might not be enough.
Before turning to those that you have offended and turned away for help and easy solutions, I propose that you find your own way of rebuilding your credibility in their eyes and my eyes. I don’t think there can ever be cooperation or healthy dialogues as long as the students, who are and have been angry, don’t see a change. You need to prove to the students that you see what you did wrong and that you will make it right. I said the same thing to Conquest Student Housing, but I never thought I would be saying it to my university newspaper.