Hi, my name is Katharyn Peterman, and I am the Editor-in-Chief of The Oredigger. I am a junior in Civil Engineering and part of the McBride Honors program.
After events throughout this week, including a very important conversation that I had this morning with several leaders from oSTEM, I have become increasingly aware of the overwhelmingly negative reactions felt towards an article in our recent issue.
In this issue, we included a two-part opinion piece about the use of the word “marriage”. We intended for these two articles to be presented to the reader as a point and counter-point representing only two voices out of many held on this topic. We did not intend, however, to offend or insult anybody on campus. That has never been our intention with publication, nor will it ever be. That is not what journalism stands for.
I have chosen to republish these articles because it was my own personal decision to remove them. I observed on Facebook these articles were being shared entirely out of context. These articles were not meant to be read separately, but together, as a two-part piece. This manipulation of articles was not acceptable, and so I made the decision to remove them. Now, they are back up online, in full.
As Editor-in-Chief, I am ultimately responsible for what is published in The Oredigger. As such, I am also responsible for choosing the dates of publication. I chose these dates last July based around the school’s schedule, unaware of the current events scheduled for these dates. This schedule became concrete once we signed contracts with our various advertisers. I did not realize the January 23 issue was to be published three days after the inauguration of our new president, an event which has caused a lot of anxiety for many Americans. As such, this article’s publication was not intentionally timed to be concurrent with the inauguration, and the potential new policies being implemented by the current leadership that many, especially in our LGBTQIA+ community are fearful of and I apologize if the timing felt intentional. I can assure you that it was not.
This said, let me explain my reasoning for publishing this article. The author of the article came up to me after our first meeting of the semester with this idea. He wanted to discuss the meaning of a word. Granted, it happened to be a word connected to a controversial idea. I will admit to you that it took me awhile to agree to this, but I also felt that it was important not to censor this individual’s ideas. After making the decision to move forward with this opinion piece, I immediately reached out to another writer for a counterpoint. I did this to ensure that a dialogue was made possible between two different views.
This is a very common journalistic practice. It is also a common journalistic practice to use a newspaper’s opinion column as a medium through which one can express their complaints/beliefs/doubts, etc. The newspaper, at its core, is a means for the exchange of information and ideas and to create intelligent discussion amongst our peers.
With the recent current events, I now believe, more than ever before, in the power, and necessity, of journalism. I believe that there is a power to words that many other forms of expression do not have. I believe in the idea of diversity and inclusion. I do not believe, however, in censorship. And that is why I agreed to publish this two-part feature.
Now, I also understand that this is considered a “closed” issue to many, as gay marriage is now protected under federal law. However, this does not prohibit conversation. The ideas and beliefs presented in both articles are prevalent throughout our society. These groups of people often view each other as unchangeable and unreachable. I do not believe this is the case. What better way to challenge people’s viewpoints and beliefs than to place them, starkly, side by side in print? What better way for opposing viewpoints to converge, if only for a moment? This uncomfortable juxtaposition of ideas is what journalism is. This is why print media is crucial to our society. Where else can you find this freedom to simply just put it all out there?
This exchange of ideas is why student publications are important. Our motto as a newspaper is “The Student Voice of Mines Since 1920.” How can we put such a bold claim on the front of each issue if, when it comes down to representing the entirety of the student body, we fail to do so? How can we, as a student body, promote diversity if we do not reach out our hands and lend our ears to those we disagree with?
As such, I invite you to respond. I invite you to pour your heart into a letter to the editor or an opinion piece and send it to us. We strive to fully embody our motto, and we to invite you to do the same.
Words are powerful, especially words from an impassioned generation that is fed up with the actions of the world around us. So, engage with the world around you. Engage with the oppression, the injustice, the inequality, the unease.
One very potent way to do this is to write. Write to us (firstname.lastname@example.org), write to the Denver Post, write to the New York Times; choose your medium and write about the issues that are important to you. Put your words out there, and stand by your arguments. If we aren’t willing to defend our values and our morals tooth and nail, are they truly worth having?
This is why I am fighting for the newspaper, now more than ever before. Don’t simply sit in the library scrolling through your Facebook feed filled with simmering ashes but no spark to truly ignite change. There is more you can do. And, I encourage you to do so. I’m not giving up my belief in the power of journalism to spark conversations about uncomfortable topics, and neither should you.
Editor-in-Chief of The Oredigger