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A Call to Hold the University News Accountable

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We, as students of Saint Louis University, form a diverse community comprised of individuals of various races, ethnicities, ages, abilities, faiths, sexual orientations, genders, gender identities, gender expressions, classes, and ideologies. Thus, as members of an institution that claims to practice inclusion, we must be held to such a standard. The culture of Saint Louis University is both defined by and reflective of the actions of student organizations. These groups must understand the power and privilege of their platforms and, therefore, responsibility to practice journalistic integrity.

In a recent publication of The University News, the Editorial Staff saw it their responsibility to educate the student body on what the author called “strange attractions.”  By doing so, the author attacked the queer community by challenging the legitimacy of same-sex marriages and by comparing internalized homophobia to internalized pedophilaphobia. The author attacked the black community by criticizing Rachel Dolezal, a white woman claiming to be black, who they claimed only wanted to be black so that she would be able “to receive the same benefits (and costs) that black people do.” In addition, the author falsely claimed that affirmative action primarily benefits black individuals when in reality, the group most aided by affirmative action is white women. Additionally, the author attacked the disabled community by likening a mute person to an animal in their ability to communicate, and the author attacked survivors of sexual assault by rewriting the definition of consent. By doing so, the author demonstrated their ignorance of diversity, and illuminated the lack of diversity amongst the mainly privileged, white, heterosexual, cisgendered institution that The University News has ultimately come to represent: this is not acceptable.  

Certainly The University News is only one of many voices in our community: a voice defined by the thoughts of the students involved; however, the failure of these students to recognize the error in their thought has led to disenfranchisement and ostracization of many within our university community. The University News has cited ignorance as the justification for the publication of the “Gender and Sexual Identification: Right and Wrong” editorial: Ignorance is never a valid excuse. By not incorporating the views of non white, queer, gender nonconforming, trans identifying students in our community, The University News has lost its legitimacy and has failed to serve its purpose.     

We, therefore, demand that the Editorial Staff of The University News begin to reconcile their failure through a restorative justice process defined by the following actions:

  • The immediate resignation of the Editor-In-Chief, The Opinion Editor, and any individual responsible for the graphic featured on the front of the paper in connection with the article; 
  • The formation of a search committee to replace the positions listed above that includes black individuals, individuals with disabilities, and queer individuals; 
  • That every member of the Editorial Board of The University News complete a special diversity training to be hosted by the Safe Zone Program; 
  • The creation of a queer column within the paper to discuss queer issues on campus and in the larger context of local, state, national, and international governments.

As a university community, we must never settle for ignorance: instead we must strive for excellence in every aspect of our lives. We must work to embrace every member of our community regardless of race, ethnicity, age, ability, faith, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, class, and ideology.  We must hold organizations accountable for providing platforms that perpetuate oppression.

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