The opinion section has historically been a grab bag of miscellaneous topics and eye-catching headlines. But beyond flashy titles and catchy hooks lies the potential for thought-provoking conversations. Indeed, this safe space for deep dialogue is the opinion section that we, as editors, hope to cultivate.
As the opinion section of a newspaper, we are in a unique position, both as editors and in terms of our content. We must balance free speech regarding expressed opinions with wanting to keep the Nexus and UC Santa Barbara as a whole a safe space to enter two-way dialogues.
In order to truly cultivate a space for comfortable and safe dialogue, it is imperative that we prioritize diversity not just in content but in who is writing said content. As editors, our individual experiences limit our critical lens and, therefore, our published content. Consequently, diversifying the voices contributing to our section is imperative in widening the scope of our coverage.
However, safe and diverse spaces are earned, not declared. In the past, our organization’s reporting styles, phrasing and overall atmosphere have alienated various UCSB communities and organizations. Part of the student body simply does not trust the Nexus to represent their views or opinions.
We do not at all expect members of these communities to feel safe starting a dialogue with any of our sections. As long as the Nexus as a whole is not perceived as a safe space, our newsroom will not properly represent the diversity of our campus. This applies to all sections, including us here at opinion.
In the past, this section’s commitment to free speech has often contradicted this effort to cultivate safe spaces. When articles are repeatedly given consideration despite their potential to directly or indirectly alienate communities in the name of free speech, we fail as a section and a publication as a whole.
Pieces that directly infringe on the safety or sense of security of any individual or group do not have a place in our section.
There’s only so much we can do as opinion editors to make the whole Nexus a safe space for people of all communities and identities. We can, and will, work hard on making our section a place for diverse dialogue in collaboration with our continuing and future diversity and inclusion chairs. We encourage our fellow editors and sections to take a critical (and potentially uncomfortable) internal look at themselves in the process of improving the Nexus’ reporting and editing practices.
Moving forward, we recognize the responsibility that accompanies being editors for one of the most prominent campus and community publications and are actively making the effort to be more thoughtful in publishing pieces. While we still value being a platform for varying perspectives, we want to ensure that pieces differ in their views while keeping our values of upholding diversity and creating safe spaces for dialogue intact.
We want to hear your opinions. Reach out to us at email@example.com.
A version of this article appeared on p. 14 of the December 2nd, 2021 print edition of the Daily Nexus.