Students and faculty members at Wesleyan University in Connecticut are calling for a boycott of campus newspaper The Wesleyan Argus after a staff writer published an op-ed critical of the Black Lives Matter movement. Among its critique, the writer questioned if the movement was achieving anything positive and if the riots and deaths attributed to the movement were worth it. Students at the liberal arts school are calling for a boycott and suspension of funding for the newspaper, which they claim “failed to be an inclusive representation of the voices of the student body.”
While this editorial board may not necessarily agree with the points articulated by the op-ed’s author, we nevertheless stand in support with the Argus and call for stronger support for free speech on university campuses. The apology published by the Argus undermines this principle of freedom of the press as well as that of freedom of speech.
It is important that citizens, particularly college students, are apprised to all sides of complicated issues. Censoring a newspaper for publishing an unpopular opinion — one not necessarily indicative of its editorial standpoint — disregards the importance of dialogue and is contrary to America’s democratic ideals.
As this Editorial Board has argued before, there is a lot to gain from a diversity of opinion, which enhances our understanding of the world and the complicated issues we face every day. Engaging opposing opinions rather than shunning them builds better understanding between groups of people instead of driving wedges and furthering polarization. The press plays a crucial role in the dissemination of both points of view, and to shut one out in favor of the other is a form of censorship that hurts all. In ignoring and expelling opinions contrary to our own, we forsake personal growth and mutual understanding. The backlash received by the Argus is troubling to a newspaper that prides itself on journalistic integrity and providing a wide range of perspectives.
University students and newspapers must encourage dialogue and debate on difficult topics rather than protect readers from different points of view. Students come to college to expand and challenge their beliefs, not to wall themselves around a barrier of sensitivity and denounce those who disagree with them.
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