Editorials, Opinions

Editorial: Toward a better Herald

By
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Every year during the spring semester, The Herald endorses candidates for contested Undergraduate Council of Students and Undergraduate Finance Board executive positions. Endorsements are typically made after the editorial board meets with the candidates to discuss their respective ideas and platforms. This year, because several candidates refused to seek endorsement from The Herald, we will not endorse any UCS or UFB candidates.

We want to acknowledge the pain The Herald has caused marginalized communities, particularly through the racist columns that were published in fall 2015 and want to highlight steps that The Herald has taken to repair our relationships with the Brown community and ensure accurate and fair content. We have looked internally and reflected on our role as a teaching organization, where students learn how to run a newspaper and help the campus become more informed and engaged. We understand that we do not truly fulfill our mission if our staff does not reflect the diversity of the student body. We acknowledge this internal problem and wish to also shed light on some of the efforts we have made in the past three semesters to make The Herald more diverse and inclusive.

In spring 2016, The Herald overhauled the opinions section to remedy the process that led to the publication of fall 2015’s racist op-eds.  Where op-ed contributors and staff columnists used to have their pieces edited online, not in the presence of an opinions editors, contributors to our opinions section now come into the office to have their piece edited in person.

In fall 2016, The Herald also introduced a diversity and inclusion advocate role. Now in its second semester, the role is currently filled by two of our section editors who have reached out to various student groups of color on campus and advocate for students of color who work for The Herald by facilitating internal discussions. The Herald has also held a series of workshops within the past year, including ones run by the Brown Center for Students of Color, Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, Social Justice Peer Educators and Counseling and Psychological Services. To ensure that we accurately cover all communities on campus, participation in these workshops was mandatory for staff members who write and edit our articles.

We understand The Herald has so much more work to do. But when the candidates say that The Herald is “exploiting narratives of students of color and low-income students,” and “misconstruing and falsely manufacturing narratives,” they erase the work of countless staff members — and most poignantly our staff members who are themselves students of color and low-income students — who make these narratives visible in our paper every day.

Students of color, low-income students and students of all marginalized identities deserve a voice in our paper — to be heard not only by their peers who read The Herald, but also by alums and administrators who stay informed about campus concerns through our paper. We believe that our coverage this semester has demonstrated care for the issues that these students face. Our revamped opinions section has also worked to start conversations about important campus issues. We encourage you, our readers, to follow our coverage daily and hold us accountable when you do not see articles or columns that fairly represent the Brown community. We have also reached out to the candidates to begin a conversation with them.

With our past in mind, we affirm and support the work our entire staff has done to bring The Herald to where it is today. We continue to dedicate ourselves to pushing a more inclusive Herald forward.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial board: Lauren Aratani ’18, Matt Brownsword ’18, Rebecca Ellis ’18 and Kate Talerico ’18. Send responses to letters@browndailyherald.com.

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