The Argus Opinion section has a diversity problem. It is neither new nor unique to our section, but as editors and assistant editors, we feel it is our duty to address this issue to the best of our ability.
By its very nature, the Opinion section is political. While other sections may discuss topics that don’t fit squarely into the campus framework, the Opinion section often strays furthest from on-campus coverage. As a homogenous team of editors, we are working to recognize and lessen the dominance of our lens within the section, which, as it currently stands, is a failure of the mission of our section, our paper, and our school.
If we are truly dedicated, as we say we are, to portraying Wesleyan and the world as thoroughly and honestly as possible, we cannot do so with a team that excludes such a significant number of experiential narratives. As much as we strive to publish work by writers whose opinions do not necessarily align with our own, we must recommit ourselves to making space for writers whose experiences are divergent from our own, whose stories we cannot tell without ultimately tipping into dishonesty and erasure.
The issue of diversity has been brought to The Argus’ attention before in the wake of our tone-deaf publication of an opinion piece that was improperly vetted by editors. A coalition of dedicated and passionate students from The Ankh, the WSA, and a number of other groups spent their time and energy addressing our mistakes for us, but we still have important changes to enact. The paper as a whole has made steps towards righting the institutional problems that have led to poor judgment calls in publication and coverage; however, we of the Opinion section believe it rests on the shoulders of each individual chamber of this organization to understand their role in the process that has made The Argus a predominantly white enterprise. As such, speaking solely on behalf of the Opinion section, we wish to reach out to those communities that we have failed to represent.
We understand that we are not entitled to anyone’s voice or clemency. We cannot ask the people that have been excluded and betrayed to be the driving force behind this institution’s rehabilitation. There is an undeniably precarious balance to be struck between attempting to integrate these voices without exploiting them or demanding their presence; we must evaluate not just the intent of our actions, but also their potentially damaging effects. We do not want to set a standard that forces the responsibility of inclusion on those historically excluded. Should our methods seem out of sync with that goal, we want to sit down and hear how we can do better.
There can be no excuses for the way in which The Argus has operated in the past. We cannot and will not rationalize our past uniformity. Doing so would be disingenuous and disrespectful to those whom we have failed, making many feel unsafe in meetings and unwelcome in the pages of our section. We are, however, committed to learning how we can do better. We want to shape the Opinion section into a more validating and inclusive arena; something worthy of representing the people in the Wesleyan community who, through the exclusion of their voices, have been told by this organization in the past that they are less important. Despite the fact that we have done little to nothing to deserve any help from the larger Wesleyan community, we are asking for your input so that we can improve. We will continue to better ourselves as best we can on our own, but that process would be insufficient without collaboration with the people and communities that we have excluded for so long. We recognize the contradiction in seeking help from those we have wronged, but we need to become more inclusive and we cannot do it on our own.
While we will always welcome pieces from all writers, we feel it is essential that our section not be a forum merely for politically and socially passionate cisgender white writers. We are perfectly comfortable with any claims that this is some politically correct maneuver on our part. If it seems as though we are privileging a subset of voices, it is because for so long our section, our paper, and our community has failed to acknowledge the power and necessity of those voices.
In addition to general opinion pieces—we encourage interested writers to write about a wide range of topics—we would also love feedback: ways in which we have failed in the past; ways in which we continue to fail; and practices you believe would help The Argus evolve into a newspaper worthy of the student body it is committed to serving.
If you do not feel comfortable submitting or if you have concerns about the direction or conduct of the section, we hope you will reach out to us about anything that upsets, angers, or worries you. It is important to us that the community knows we are open to hearing any issues that anyone may have with The Argus, and that there is no problem too small to address. We will do everything we can to create a safe, open space for the voicing of concerns.
We are planning to hold an open forum, specific to the section, with details to come. We are here to listen, and we are asking for your feedback and criticism, especially regarding our conduct over the last year.
For all of us here at the Opinion section, The Argus has been a valuable community, helping us grow as writers and as people. Accordingly, we believe this community should be accessible to any student here at Wesleyan. An exclusionary Argus is a failure and an insult to what this platform can and should be. We deeply believe that our section cannot fulfill its purpose, nor do its job, if it’s a space that does anything less than serve and respect the full range of experiences that exist in our community.
We are indebted to this community. We are here to accept your criticism and rebuild ourselves into a section with not just better intent but better results. We would not be what we are without you, nor could we ever become what The Argus should and must be.
Dan Bachman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Michael Darer at email@example.com, Sam Prescott at firstname.lastname@example.org, Connor Aberle at email@example.com, and Hannah Reale at firstname.lastname@example.org.