Most weeks, the opinion pages of the Trinitonian are filled with only our staff writers’ voices, supplemented by the occasional faculty columnist. In itself, that’s no problem — we employ talented student columnists because they are good writers with relevant opinions to share, and we seek out professors to share their views, too.

But we also open our opinion pages to our readership, inviting you to submit short letters to the editor as a reaction to our writing. We also solicit entire guest columns, allowing students, alumni and others to address the community at length for no charge.

Too often, however, entire months go by without a single guest column submission, and we haven’t published a letter to the editor once this entire school year. You’ll notice that this week’s issue is quite different in that regard.

This week, we received one reader’s critique of one of the student art installations exhibited at the Mini, as well as a defense of the artwork penned by the artists. You’ll also see several responses to Isaiah Mitchell’s guest column last week, “Why I did not march.”

His opinion column proved to be quite controversial. A number of students approached Trinitonian employees with anger or disbelief. Several expressed disappointment that we would run his column in the first place. One student initially asked that we apologize for printing it.

The Trinitonian is a community service, which partly involves opening our pages to our readership and printing others’ opinions, without regard for whether we agree with what they have to say. (Rare exceptions are made for speech not protected by the First Amendment, for instance libel or the incitement of imminent lawless action.)

This part of our mission is not up to any particular team of editors or executives; it does not change from year to year. It’s written in the charter of the Board of Campus Publications, the collection of students and staff that serve as the publisher of this newspaper. Here’s an excerpt from our stated purpose:

“The purpose of the Trinitonian is to serve as a campus communication link between students, faculty, staff, and other readers during the academic year; … to provide a forum for free and open exchange of ideas and opinions; to provide an innovative learning experience in a laboratory environment which emulates that of a professional newspaper.”

The Trinitonian respects you enough to present you with the opinions of your peers, even when we expect that many readers will heavily disagree with those opinions.

Besides, this week’s issue demonstrates how the publication of controversial columns can foster a valuable exchange of ideas: a discussion regarding activism and race in America, a confrontation concerning ethnicity, religion and queerness as expressed in artwork.

This editorial staff is proud to host civil discourse on these and other topics. We invite you to join the conversation.

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