Students for Liberation editorial was inaccurate

Students+for+Liberation+editorial+was+inaccurate

Rachel Wallen

Students for Liberation recently published an editorial on the online publication The Pub explaining the issues they had with the Old Gold & Black’s coverage of their Columbus Day protest. I would like to respond to many of the claims made in their editorial and defend the Old Gold & Black’s reporting on this protest.

The editor who wrote this story took it upon himself to ensure that this event was covered. When he could not find a staff writer to cover the event, he decided to cover it himself, even though he had to skip class to do so.

He prioritized this protest because he believed it to be an extremely important event, and despite this, he was verbally attacked by the protestors even while he was covering the protest. The Students for Liberation seem to think the Old Gold & Black went out of our way to intentionally smear their name and undermine their protest, when in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

The editorial first took issue with the specific naming of Valerie Holmes as present the event, saying that that fact associates the Students for Liberation with “unmanageable delinquency.” In fact, to avoid portraying the Students for Liberation this way, the Old Gold & Black declined to include the fact that two police officers were also present at the event. Other administrators were there, but Valerie Holmes was the highest ranking and most notable of the group. To not include her would have been to explicitly ignore an important fact of the story.

The editorial also took issue with the statement that “there is some disagreement as to what the organization itself stands for.” Many organizations have differences of opinion as to their goals and ideals.

To imply that different students involved with Students for Liberation have different goals does not paint them as “unmanageable, unorganized, rebel-rousers,” as the editorial claims.

A group that fit those characteristics would not have been able to hold a successful protest in the first place, as the Students for Liberation were clearly able to do. The article included many positive comments about the Students for Liberation and the work they are accomplishing on campus.

Charles-Anthony Athanasopoulos is quoted more than anyone else in the article, discussing the issues with Columbus Day and the way celebrating Columbus “normalizes our culture to celebrate genocide,” which is exactly what the Students of Liberation claimed to be protesting in their own editorial.

The Old Gold & Black article also discussed how leaders of Students for Liberation are meeting with Michele Gillespie to talk about curriculum changes, as well as the food and clothing drive organized by Students for Liberation, which placed donation boxes around campus to invite students to participate. The inclusion of all of these things contributes to a balanced portrayal of the members of Students for Liberation as Wake Forest Forest students who care deeply about the issues facing the university community and are taking action to confront them.

As for the claim that the article gives more attention to a dog than to issues of privilege, I would point out first that the protest itself was not exactly about privilege. The issue of privilege may have been relevant to the topic at hand, but if an article attempted to include every issue that was in any way relevant to its topic, it would become a dissertation.

Second, I would point to the paragraph discussing “the university’s and society’s glorification of Columbus and the oppression of indigenous peoples,” a quote from Savanah Baber that discusses systematic oppression of indigenous people and two quotes from Athansopoulos referring to “disenfranchised communities” and “the larger issues of inequality at Wake Forest Forest” to show that the major issues the protest was addressing were sufficiently covered and discussed in members of Students for Liberation’s own words.

Finally, the inclusion of the comments made by members of Students for Liberation towards another group of students, as well as the inclusion of the perspective of one of those students, is exactly what makes an article unbiased. Were the article to contain only the Students for Liberation’s point of view and perspective on this issue, it would be a public relations piece, not a news article.

The Old Gold & Black is not in the business of public relations. We will continue to publish stories that include multiple perspectives from different students on the issues facing our campus.

As the editorial says, “The responsibility of a newspaper is to disseminate information to the public as it occurs without bias. The people are endowed with the right to formulate their own opinion autonomously.”

There are no factual errors in the reporting of this protest, and by including perspectives other than those of the Students for Liberation, we have presented both sides of this protest to the student body and trust that they will formulate their own opinions accordingly.