We, the editors-in-chief, acknowledge the frustration, anger, pain, and fear that members of the student body felt in response to the op-ed “Why Black Lives Matter Isn’t What You Think” published in The Argus on Tuesday, Sept. 15. We hear the community’s concerns about the piece’s treatment of police brutality and its implications about the lives of people of color. We sincerely apologize for the distress the piece caused the student body.

Yesterday, members of The Ankh’s staff arrived at our offices to discuss their outrage at our decision to publish the op-ed. They demanded that an editorial be printed on the front page of The Argus. Because this issue feels urgent and out of respect for students of color, we obliged; an editorial is running on the front page for the first time in institutional memory. Over the past few days, we have discussed the piece and its flaws with many students. These conversations have crystallized for us the immense impact of our editorial decisions. The opinions expressed in the op-ed do not reflect those of The Argus, and we want to affirm that as community members, we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Argus holds a position of power on campus in that it disseminates information to students, faculty, and community members. This gives us a responsibility to consider the implications of the articles we publish. We failed the community on Tuesday in many ways. The Opinion section, like the rest of The Argus, relies entirely on student volunteers to write its content. All Wesleyan students are welcome to contribute to The Argus. A promotion to staff writer, which is the position the writer of the Black Lives Matter piece holds, is not an endorsement of the writer’s views but rather a reflection of hir participation in the organization.

The Opinion section is open to any writer who wants to share a view, whether or not the Opinion editors and the editors-in-chief agree with it. While we strive to make articles as coherent as possible before publication, we edit opinions for style rather than content, even if they are unpopular, controversial, and widely contested. If it is a student newspaper’s mission to reflect the views and voices of the entire student body, then the Opinion section must be open to the entire student body.

That being said, we acknowledge that the way in which the op-ed was published gave the writer’s words validity. First and foremost, we apologize for our carelessness in fact-checking. The op-ed cites inaccurate statistics and twists facts. As Wesleyan’s student newspaper, it is our responsibility to provide our readership with accurate information. We vow to raise our standards of journalism and to fact-check questionable information cited in articles, including those in the Opinion section, prior to publication.

Additionally, the piece was published without a counter-argument in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement alongside it, and this lack of balance gave too much weight to the views expressed in the op-ed. We should have addressed the unevenness of the Opinion section in Tuesday’s issue prior to publication. In the future, we will carefully consider the context in which articles are published and work to represent a wider variety of views, even if this entails holding off on publishing a particular op-ed until we have appropriate material to run with it.

Representing more diverse views, backgrounds, and stories in The Argus is a goal we set for ourselves last semester, and while we have made progress in our coverage of student of color events, we still have a long way to go. Though The Argus is completely run by volunteers, its staff is and has long been primarily white. We recognize that because of this and in light of the Black Lives Matter op-ed, students of color may not feel comfortable or welcome writing for The Argus. Moving forward, making our spaces available to all students will be our top priority, and we want to enthusiastically encourage students of color to contribute to all of The Argus’ sections and to use The Argus as a platform to share their experiences and opinions.

We want to acknowledge that because editorial positions on The Argus are both unpaid and time-consuming, economic pressures affect who can devote time to the paper. The Argus has previously attempted to pay its staff members, but in recent years, the WSA and SBC have cut our student worker funding, rendering us unable to offer paid editorial positions. We plan to bring this issue up again at the upcoming SBC meeting and to talk to the University about making The Argus part of its work-study program.

We have begun to make efforts toward making the newspaper a safe space for the student of color community and plan to continue them with greater force. Our first step will be publishing a Black Out issue—an issue of The Argus written entirely by students of color—in the near future. We are committed to making space for the student of color population in this publication in the future, including creating a column to discuss issues of race and racism at Wesleyan. We will also strengthen our coverage of student of color events, beginning with the publication of a news article about the After Charleston event in the next issue. Other initiatives will include closer communication with relevant student groups such as The Ankh and better publicizing of The Argus in spaces that celebrate diversity. We have already begun conversations with the student of color community regarding the aforementioned plans.

This editorial will by no means correct our errors or heal the wounds that Tuesday’s issue created. As we grapple with the knowledge that we have caused our community deep pain, we reflect upon and reconsider the way our publication functions. The system under which The Argus operates is inherently flawed; we’ve made it our mission to examine these flaws closely and do our best to rectify them.

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  • As a journalist, I saw a link to this story and thought I’d see how campus newspapers are doing these days.

    Here are a few observations:

    I’m left troubled that in this entire reply by the student editors there is not one mention–not one–of the the importance of the First Amendment, free speech, and of discerning between opinion commentary and news reporting.

    There is a vague reference to including all voices, but that’s not the same thing. As editors, barring a breach of ethics or the law, which has not occurred here, it is your duty–agree or not with his opinion– to stand firmly by your columnist’s right to express his views openly and without caveat. That’s not the same as agreeing with, or endorsing, him.

    Argumentative writing might cynically be described as twisting facts, but there is nothing in the student op-ed in question that I read which even approaches that. Everything was fairly straightforward; in fact, in places it was overly simplistic–indicative of a student writer– but still competent and coherent.

    Furthermore, the student op-ed in question showed awareness that all good opinion writing should provide its own counterarguments, which it does in not just one but rather in 2-3 places. And of those, one is through self-effacement.

    There are also no statistics quoted in the student op-ed, just a reference to rising crime after a certain event which is, after my own research, an accurate statement.

    Also, balance and providing opposing view op-eds is not inherently part of the publication of any opinion piece, or any opinion sections or pages, in the real world of journalism.

    I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with the student op-ed; however, as a basic commentary, it easily passes the eye test.

    I can’t speak to what or how any faculty are advising this newspaper, but the student editors should know this: the newsrooms of serious professional media outlets can be brutal places. Even in places which have a clear ideological bent, there are no “safe spaces” for anyone.

    So if I can leave you with some advice, it’s this: if someone is angry at something published on your pages, don’t ever pander to them, and don’t ever apologize. Keep them at arm’s length and support the First Amendment rights of those to whom you have granted bylines. Particularly with opinion pieces, either that or pull the byline and write the columns yourself.

    Your college president said it best (even if he used two negatives in one sentence): No one has a right not to be offended. Deal. That’s real life.

    By the way, there are no “safe spaces” there, either.

  • Katie

    A “Black Out” issue makes matters even worse. If you want a diverse newspaper, combine articles written by both black and white students into one issue. If you have an issue that is written entirely by the black population of the school and one that is written entirely by the white, well it’s sad to say, but that’s segregation. The next issue The Argus produces should combine both black and white authors, not just one.

  • Gotham Knight

    Cowards. By the way, when you mention careless fact-checking, providing an actual example of the deception you claim would be helpful. Without that, you appear foolish.

  • lisa hildebrand

    Whatever happened to authentic journalism that has’t been eliminated by the intolerant PC bunch or by fear-mongers? All Lives Matter and to promote hate and condone violence by silence is reprehensible and is nodding towards being criminal. The editors, academic institutions, and hate- spewing intolerant fools are what the greatest generation would call them- sissies, bullies, and cowards.

  • Irving

    Black Fascism Matters!

  • Tatiana Covington

    My response in full would have been: “Don’t like it? TOUGH!!!”

  • Anonymous

    Does the Argus post counter arguments for every opinion piece they publish or just when they publish conservative opinions? And what exactly were the twisted facts and inaccurate statistics in the original article?
    All in all this is an embarrassing incident for the University. Liberal students need to learn to be able to engage viewpoints and opinions that they disagree with. Feeling pain, anger, and hurt because you don’t agree with someone is downright stupid.

  • Anonymous

    What a pathetic, sniveling cop out. 1 for the thought police, 0 for freedom of speech. Today’s students are such coddled pieces of whinging stupidity.

  • Anonymous

    Precious little snowflakes are offended. Stop the press.

  • Robert Karma

    The surrender by the Editors-in-Chief for the Argus have deeply disappointed me with their surrender to the forces of political correctness. I am a “liberal” in the traditional sense of the word. The modern ideology of Liberalism can be traced back to the Humanism which challenged the authority of the established church in Renaissance Europe, and more particularly to the 17th and 18th Century British and French Enlightenment thinkers, and the movement towards self-government in colonial America. Philosophers like Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, and members of the Founding Fathers like Paine, Jefferson and Adams are the foundation of the Liberalism we practice. One of the most important rights we value is Freedom of Speech and Expression for every citizen.

    So while I may not agree with Mr. Stascavage on all of his points, he wrote nothing that was offensive or harmful. I agree with the spirit of this quote (attributed to Voltaire but actually written by a biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall), “I don’t agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This has long been the Liberal position on Free Speech. I’d suggest reading about the Free Speech Movement that had its genesis at Berkeley in 1964. http://www.uic.edu/orgs/cwluherstory/jofreeman/sixtiesprotest/berkeley.htm It is not a principal of Liberalism to shut down or limit Free Speech because it might offend people. Liberals embrace vigorous debate between people with different opinions and worldviews. It is anathema to us to censor newspaper editorials, to deny groups the right to free expression (within the rules for all campus groups), to disinvite speakers to campus events (like graduation or for a show), etc., because it may offend some people. These college students are not being “liberal” in any sense of the word. Orwellian is the term that comes to mind where speech is labeled as being correct or incorrect based on the perceived offense it presents. If you go to college and you are never offended or never have your preconceived ideas and worldview challenged, you should demand a refund. If you want to see the damage caused by constantly being angry over a world that offends you, watch Fox News. They exist to express and generate outrage at perceived offenses to their right-wing conservative politically correct worldview. Let them be a warning to what you have become on campus when you only allow politically correct speech that doesn’t challenge or provoke you into thinking about the subject matter.

    Numerous articles have been written about the growth of on-campus political correctness run amok. This Time article summed it up well, “Campuses should be hotbeds for intellectual diversity—where ideas constantly are clashing, and students regularly are challenged to think critically, learn new ideas, and communicate their positions. Lots of conversations should be initiated, and policies should foster this interaction. Students should not be intellectually bubble-wrapped, shielded from any idea that they might find new or frightening. They shouldn’t be retreating to “safe spaces” and worse, our universities themselves shouldn’t become intellectually homogenous “safe spaces” where everyone marches to the same tune. The world does not work that way—nor should it—and universities do a disservice to their students by pretending otherwise. What will students do when they come to a situation in real life where there is no pre-arranged safe space with counselors into which to retreat when someone challenges their worldview? It’s as if some universities are more concerned with protecting students from having their feelings hurt or preventing them from having their views challenged than preparing them for the working world and teaching them how to think critically.” – http://time.com/3848947/dear-universities-there-should-be-no-safe-spaces-from-intellectual-thought/

    Learn to think for yourself through the use of critical inquiry otherwise you allow other people to do the thinking for you. That’s not freedom but rather mental slavery.

  • Bill Hough

    What part of “free speech” don’t you idiots understand?

  • Post American

    Sad, this country has a diverse population and diverse opinons. Maybe Donald Trump was right after all!

  • Anonymous

    College used to be a place where you learn about different viewpoints. Now it’s a place where students are coddled and shielded from any view that upsets them. What a travesty.

  • John Mahoney

    members of The Ankh’s staff. What is the Ankh?

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  • Anonymous

    Ah more “trigger words”, “safe spaces”, “microaggressions”, etc. to coddle college students from seeing the real world, that different people will have different view points, not matter how “distressing” it may be to you. It’s instances like there where the editorial board capitulates, which makes millenials look really bad, and at a university where there is supposed to be an exchange of ideas, no matter how “distressing” it may be.

  • Joe C

    So….disappointed. A spineless apology and then to characterize the op-ed as twisting facts and not specifying what facts were twisted? Grow a pair ladies. Don’t be intimidated by militant left wing protagonists.
    It is your failure to uphold the legitimacy of the free press that encourages third party censorship.

  • Anonymous

    Rebecca Brill and Tess Morgan…snowflakes that melted under some minor-league heat. Better stay in a school of some sort – undergraduate, graduate, elementary – as long as you can, because the real world will chew you up and spit you out.

  • Andy Andrews

    Editors should be fired. Writer should be promoted. Dumb ass college mentality of Political Correctness. Unacceptable. Close the whole damn University for being so chicken shit

  • Andy Andrews

    You lily livered cowards. Shame on you. Free speech is free speech

  • Anonymous

    Ms Brill and Ms Morgan will never amount to anything honorable. They have met the first test of integrity and failed, miserably.

  • Anonymous

    If Ms Brill and Ms Morgan had the faintest bit of sense, the smallest degree of self knowledge, the merest smidgeon of honest idealism, they would tender their resignations for the damage they did with this editorial to freedom of speech and freedom of thought. Not only would I not welcome these two to marry my sister, I would not want them associating with a decent self respecting sus scrofa.

  • Anonymous

    In 1015 words Ms Brill and Ms Morgan, defenders of their holy dogma, apologize for “inaccurate statistics and twisted facts” in the article they assail and pillory, “Why Black Matters isn’t what You Think”
    But for this cowardly claim, (given the power of their positions), they give us not one example, Not 1 ! in 1015 words.
    That makes Ms Brill and Ms Morgan either incompetent or less than honorable.
    I hope that they are merely deficient in competence and intellect, because these are defects that can be addressed.
    Intellectual dishonesty can not be fixed, and is not forgivable.

  • Anonymous

    Diversity of people’s skin color is not diversity of thought, nor is skin hue somehow related to truth, sense or reason. All I can see from Ms Brill and Ms Morgan is the kind of passive aggressive fascist left totalitarian attack on free speech, and an attempt to ensure that their own undefended and unargued claims of the specious 1984 Orwellian thought control that they and their fellow travelers try to indoctrinate in uncritical minds.
    There was neither hurt nor error in the article “Why Black Matters isn’t what you think it is”.
    There was simply an eruption by the violent fascism of those who would force group think on us all.
    It’s obvious that Ms Brill and Ms Morgan neither understand freedom of speech, or freedom of conscience.
    The only requirement for completion of their degrees, should be writing in the blackboard 10 times, the entirety of “on Liberty” by J.S Stuart Mill, and a year as foreign exchange students in North Korea.

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  • Scottie B

    It’s obvious this newspaper’s goal is to print whatever is non-controversial, politically correct, and safe and to muffle anyone with an objective opinion. Someone happened to write their opinion and use their 1st Amendment right, which this newspaper obviously doesn’t condone and acted quickly to snuff it out… They obviously didn’t care enough to read what goes into their paper and stand behind the 1st Amendment. They were quick to stab the writer in the back, that is for sure. What a bunch of hypocritical sell-outs…

  • Anonymous

    What PC BS! It is an opinion piece. When you state that the article had factual errors and twisted the truth, you then have an obligation to say what those were. Otherwise it is just a cheap shot at the validity of the article. If anything, you should not have backpedalled, but rather celebrated diverse opinions. Please pass this on to your partner in crime.

  • Laura Egendorf

    The sad thing is that the man who wrote the Op-Ed is a 30-year-old war veteran. So a person who has had some actual life experience, and he has to deal with this pathetic showing by some 20-year-olds?

    What disgusts me the most is that there is no “safe space” on campus for Jewish students who don’t hate Israel. Are they allowed to express their views? Or are only certain minorities coddled?

  • Laura Egendorf

    Oh my God, this is what the Argus has become?

  • Anonymous

    Militant thugs don’t like their motives and actions being questioned. BLM is nothing more than a racist, violent group that targets whites and cops. How ironic that the Free Speech Movement, which was started by leftwing radicals on university campuses in the 1960s, against the ‘oppressive establishment’, has now become the oppressive establishment. The Argus staff recoils in horror at the thought of the BLM being poked in the eye by the truth.

  • MamaRea

    Yes, it seems that the Argus is inherently flawed if creating a safe space means suppressing opinions. If the editors were concerned about facts, why not give the author the opportunity to provide those facts? Easy enough to check public stats from Baltimore police records. If supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement are truly concerned about making a difference, and not just noise, the questions raised by the op-ed piece are no only valid, but necessary. How many who composed and signed on to the petition have actually READ the Stascavage piece? The piece is balanced, clear, and thought provoking. It is a sad statement on the Argus it seems to have provoked censorship, and not debate.

  • Roger Meurer

    Police in Clayton County, Georgia have arrested Black Lives Matter activist Latausha Nedd aka “Eye Empress Sekhmet” after she posted a video calling for “open season” on police and “crackers” that also called for taking over police stations. The three minute video that landed Nedd in legal trouble shows her menacing a gun and a machete while dressed in camouflage.
    THIS is the kind of garbage you two op-ed apologists are SUPPORTING, right? After all, this is a “blacklivesmatter” activist, and you support blacklivesmatter, is that correct?

  • Anonymous

    Whipped. Its sad to see them crawl like this. It really is.

  • David

    I am ashamed a member of the press would bend to extortion and bullying. Be a REAL paper and tell the readers offended to STOP READING. Live up to your constitutional responsibilities. The #BlackLivesMatter movement is racist and terroristic in its rhetoric and actions.