Community struggles to find meaning of opinion piece
The recent publication of the opinion titled “If it’s war the Asians want.” by Max Karson has left some faculty members questioning the Campus Press’ decision to run the article.
Alphonse Keasley, the director of the Minority Arts and Sciences Program and the Diversity Committee chair of the Faculty Assembly, voiced his concerns about the educational process that the article was meant to provide.
“I’m still trying to make sense of things,” Keasley said.
Keasley said his concern was not about the writer, but the decision of the Campus Press to print the article.
He said the impact of the article went beyond his own program.
“I spoke with different directors and different faculty to understand how this decision to allow a piece that inflames people came about,” Keasley said.
Keasley said while students were working on their academics the day Karson’s opinion was published, they couldn’t help but have a discussion about the piece.
He said one student came to his office and broke down.
“Fortunately, students had each other to support, that’s been a source of comfort,” Keasley said.
Keasley said he was concerned how far the scope of the article had spread so quickly. He said the day the article ran, several alumni contacted the program, and that the story had reached an international level.
In the aftermath, Keasley said he did not think it was not the responsibility of the faculty or the program to initiate actions to remedy the situation because their focus is on academics.
“But we have compassion, and humanity, and we have to respond to that, to the people we know,” he said.
He said he hoped the Campus Press and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication would want to initiate the actions, rather than have the expectation for them to institute changes.
The Campus Press is making several initiatives in response to the situation, members of Campus Press staff said. The staff will be receiving cultural sensitivity training as well forming a student diversity advisory board to work with editors.
Additionally, the staff said there will be a formal set of standards for future opinion articles so that controversial topics are reviewed by the editorial managing staff.
Keasley said the new guidelines could certainly help, but that he doesn’t think it could be the only answer.
Keasley said he knows two or three people in the SJMC, including Dean Paul Voakes, and is convinced that there is a strong commitment to diversity in the school.
But he said he was still trying to understand why that commitment didn’t translate in the Campus Press.
“Something didn’t transpire in the educational experience, something didn’t work,” he said.
Keasley said students in MASP were not ready to share how they felt about the article.
Other students were willing to share their thoughts about it.
Christopher Daruns, a senior English major, questioned the hate speech in the article and the decision made by the editors to publish it.
“The First Amendment was written so that any majority couldn’t infringe on minority rights with hate speech,” he said. “Though the article is protected, it was originally up to the Campus Press whether or not to accept, or reject, that article.”
He then questioned whether Karson could be charged with hate speech.
“You can’t charge someone with hate speech unless you charge the editors that allowed the hate speech to reach the public,” Daruns said. “If he is charged, it would be a violation of freedom of speech.”
He said he hoped the issues would be resolved soon.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Marcy Franklin at firstname.lastname@example.org.