On the Collegian opinion desk, we publish a wide variety of columns on national and CSU-related topics. Opinion columnists share their views on national crises, bigotry, abortion, issues of technology and the campus stadium. Last week, one of our columnists weighed in on the national trend of wearing Fratagonia merchandise.
The response was overwhelming. Greek Life members have come into our office, written letters to the editor and taken to social media to express concern over the article’s views. The most common response has been that the columnist attacked Greek Life without backing her claims.
We welcome criticism and opposing views, and we are glad to see that our readers feel passionately about topics in our newspaper. However, due to the large number of questions surrounding why we published the column, we feel we need to explain to our readers why we publish columns that may be considered offensive.
First, our opinion columnists operate independently and choose what to discuss in their own columns. The only time you will see the opinion of this editorial board is in an Our View. All other opinions in this publication are those of the writer and the writer alone. This organization does not hold a negative opinion of Greek Life or of any members in our community. In fact, we cover all aspects of Greek Life regularly, both through our news desk and opinion columns. This includes awards ceremonies, philanthropy events, partnerships on campus, fundraisers and disaffiliations.
The freedom we give to our columnists reflects the way that newsrooms around the U.S. run — opinion columnists are free to share all views because there is no room for censorship in commentary. If we were to edit someone’s view, we would be silencing voices that already exist in the community. If one of our writers believes something, we can guarantee that others outside of our newspaper do as well. We have seen this through countless opinions and voices on all sides of issues — for every column that has received a negative response, we have gotten positive emails as well. Our duty as a news organization is to allow all voices to be heard. If we edit beliefs, we are essentially ignoring the beliefs of our community. If we ignore our community, we are sheltering our readers from reality.
We are a news organization produced for students, by students. We are all in a time of transition in our lives. We are figuring out what we believe and why. To censor this development is a disservice to our columnists and our readers. We are students of journalism at Rocky Mountain Student Media, and we learn how to be better reporters, columnists and editors every day. When one of our articles or columns receives backlash, we learn.
An important part of being in student media is to learn from what we write and what our readers tell us. So, please continue to read and continue to criticize. We welcome it.
The Collegian Editorial Board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.