Columns reflective of writers, not the Voice
March 12, 2009
Last week, the Student Voice ran two controversial columns: Aaron Billingsley’s column lambasting Student Senate and Ken Weigend’s piece on improper crosswalk use both received angry letters to the editor and have raised some question as to the credibility of the Voice, both from general students and Senators. The Student Voice Editorial Board would like to defend the use of these two pieces.
The content contained on the Viewpoints pages in the newspaper are opinion pieces that reflect purely the view of the writer of that particular piece. One of the reasons why each column has a picture accompanying it is to make a visual statement that everything expressed in the writing is coming strictly from that author. It is their personal viewpoint and does not reflect the viewpoint of the Student Voice itself.
The text in the masthead found on page four clearly stated that “The opinions expressed in editorials and columns do not represent those of the newspaper’s advisor, student population, administration, faculty or staff.”
This means that the Student Voice takes no stance on the issues raised. The Student Voice has a policy of not editing or censoring submitted material except for space issues or for libel concerns. The Student Voice also does not have the manpower or the resources to employ an extensive fact-checking team. Because of this, columnists and reporters are expected to submit material that is free of errors. When the Student Voice receives a column, or even a news story, it is assumed that the writer did their job.
In Billingsley’s Senate column, Billingsley consulted the official Senate minutes from previous meetings to gather his information. If there was an error in fact, then that error came from the Senate minutes and not from the columnist research. Billingsley said that his motivation behind writing the column was to mirror a growing dissonance he has heard from students regarding the Senate, and to elicit a reaction from Senate that would cause them to promote their meetings more.
According to Weigend, his crosswalk column was intended to be interpreted as dark humor aimed at a student populace gripped by apathy. He said his column contained harsh language in order to shock readers in an increasingly desensitized atmosphere. The column was aimed at those individuals who routinely cut off traffic and fail to even acknowledge the presence of cars on the road, not towards those who utilize the crosswalks in safe and legal ways.
In both instances, the Student Voice chose to run the column in its unadulterated form because both reflected solely the views of the writers, not the Voice.