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SMU Daily Campus

SMU Daily Campus

SMU Daily Campus


A sad repeat of history

During America’s period of segregation, minority voice rarely made it onto the hallowed pages of the nation’s top opinion sections. Minorities were never given a powerful tool to battle misperception and prejudice. Instead, others spoke for them and discourse and understanding suffered.

America’s editors failed the nation. They allowed the general public to paint a picture of minorities that was far from complete. The obligation of any opinion editor is to allow for a diversity of voice on her opinion page—conservatives, liberals and everyone in between deserves a chance to make a case. The obligation of the opinion editor is, therefore, an inclusive one.

Recently, a petition started by the Women’s Interest Network (WIN) at SMU—an organization devoted to inclusion on campus—called for The Daily Campus “to stop publishing articles contributing to rape culture and misogyny in general.” Citing three opinion articles run by the paper this year, the petition claims: “This is not a matter of freedom of speech; saying that people have their opinions and we are just posting them is blatantly unethical, erroneous, and ignorant.”

A firewall exists between the editorial page and the rest of the paper. None of the pieces were run in the news section. If The Daily Campus had called for a certain cultural norm or preventative practice in its news pages, I would be the first to call for change. But, alas, this is not what happened.

Three separate opinions, all of which represented a view held on this campus—men must improve themselves in volatile social times, women should wear more conservative costumes, and women should drink less in order to make better decisions (a theory pushed by many public health experts and statisticians)—were told: “You don’t deserve a spot in this debate.”

In a world ruled by SMU’s WIN, exclusion would become the norm. The petition frames the debate in a certain way: The dominant world view is that of patriarchal misogyny, and any dialogue that can be linked to bolstering that ideology should be removed from the public sphere.

If we removed the specific actors, we would be left with a shocking repeat of history. When minorities were excluded from voice, the effects were devastating. No black person was able to tell his or her fellow citizens how it felt to sit in the back of a bus or how insecure mob justice made his daily life. WIN’s petition tells us to repeat history. It tells us to shun minority voices that hold certain socially conservative views.

If we are to shun them, the problems on our campus will only get worse. No matter what WIN thinks of certain viewpoints, the removal of voice will only hurt discourse. How can we have honest conversations about our campus’ problems with sexual assaults if we don’t allow the entire student body to participate? How can we ever come to a consensus if we limit the number of people allowed in the auditorium? How can WIN ever achieve its mission of inclusion and understanding if the very opinions they are trying to change are told to exit the public forum?

WIN’s petition is admirable, and it is well-intentioned. But, I’m afraid that if the actors were switched in this situation—feminist columns were being called for removal by social conservatives—WIN would be on the other side of the aisle, a move of opportunity instead of principle. For an organization that values liberalism—equality and openness—its call for illiberalism—exclusion and unequal treatment—as a means to an end is a step in the wrong direction.

Faruk is a junior who calls many departments in Dedman College his home.

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