Few people pick up The Campus on Thursday morning hoping to see profanity splashed in big black letters across the front page.
But the Editorial Board of The Campus made a thoughtful and conscious decision to run a picture of a student wearing a shirt that read “Blackface? FUCK NO!” last week.
However offensive some of our readers may find it, we stand by that decision.
It wasn’t the best timing for those words to be printed on our front page.
There was an Admissions visit weekend and the Alumni Council met on campus all weekend.
Although we weren’t aware of these two events when we chose to print the picture, we wouldn’t have changed the photo to accommodate them.
Our job as your newspaper is to report and print the facts, however they unfold.
Our job is not to sugarcoat the big issues or highlight the small.
Our job is not to present a vision of the college to the surrounding community, alumni or prospective students, although the newspaper often does that by nature.
We focused on offering the community a balanced piece covering the forum on blackface, an event that we agreed—and we felt the Allegheny community did too—was the most newsworthy issue on campus last week.
It drew crowds of both faculty and students, stirred strong emotions in community members and provided a rallying point for students dissatisfied with their experience here.
These are all qualifications for front-page-worthy news.
But why vulgarity on the front page?
Primarily, because we felt it was an accurate depiction of the mood of the event.
The Association for the Advancement of Black Culture was angry, and those shirts said it better than any caption or headline we could have written.
We also hoped the picture would inspire Allegheny’s students to inform themselves.
It was a controversial picture, but it was eye-catching, and we hoped that it would cause people to read our article on the event, which offered context.
Perhaps the issue is not our coverage, but rather the fact that a group of students on campus feel so strongly offended that they chose to wear such strongly offensive shirts.
Hopefully any future discussions will address the latter, rather than the former, issue.
Allegheny College will speak for itself.
From the moment most visitors walk on this campus, they are dazzled by the beautiful landscaping, old-fashioned architecture and pervasive sense of community.
The newspaper’s purpose is not merely to reflect this perception, but to offer readers a more nuanced view of the college and the many issues we experience daily with which a casual visitor may not have cause to interact.
It’s also important for any prospective students to be aware of any and all aspects of their potential college, even the negative ones.
It wouldn’t be appropriate or truthful for us, your newspaper, to sugarcoat the news simply to better sell the school.
We don’t aim to offend. We aim to inform.