Wesleyan students, alumni, and staff have signed a petition calling for a boycott of The Wesleyan Argus and withdrawing its student group funding over the publication of an op-ed that included criticism of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, The Wesleyan Argus reported.
The op-ed, “Why Black Lives Matter Isn’t What You Think,” drew fury around campus, and The Argus was accused of supporting institutional racism.
The op-ed, written by staff writer Bryan Stascavage, questioned the legitimacy of the Black Lives Matter movement, and pointed out that some people want it to be labelled a hate group for supposedly inciting violence against police officers.
His statements were seen as highly controversial and offensive to the petitioners on campus, at a time when the country is grappling with a spate of African-American deaths at the hands of white police officers.
In response to the anger, the paper’s editorial staff ran a response to the op-ed saying, “We hear the community’s concerns about the piece’s treatment of police brutality and its implications about the lives of people of colour. We sincerely apologise for the distress the piece caused the student body.”
Still, The Argus stood by its decision to run the piece, explaining that the opinion section is open to any writer who wishes to share their thoughts on a topic, even if they are unpopular or controversial.
The boycott has spurred discussions on the role of a newspaper and their responsibility to students.
Paul Singley, President of the Connecticut Society for Professional Journalists, told the Argus that a newspaper’s First Amendment rights should not be called into question simply for publishing controversial stories.
“That’s what a good newspaper does,” Singley said. “It shares ideas, it shares opinions.”
The anger over the op-ed also touches upon the increasingly prevalent opinion that college campuses are becoming too politically correct.
President Barack Obama recently he waded into the discussion over political dialogue on college campuses and said students should not be “coddled” from opposing political viewpoints.
“I’ve heard of some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative,” Obama said.
“Or they don’t want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African-Americans, or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women. I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of views,” he added.
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