Two Letters to the Editor triggered a viral online discussion regarding unequal representation of genders in the School President position. The letter from MJ Engel ’13, Gabbi Fisher ’13, Samuel L. Green ’13, Maia Hirschler ’13 and Henry Kennelly ’13 has received nearly 3,000 views and over 50 comments—the majority of which are anonymous.
Of the commenters on the letter, only a handful opted to display their real and complete names. Some instead chose to comment under pseudonyms such as “An Upper” or “A Female Senior.”
While the majority of these comments were constructive, genuinely directed toward a much-needed discussion about gender inequality, some posters used their anonymity to launch hostile criticisms.
These anonymous commenters took advantage of the platform to stage personal attacks, even going as far as to slander and discredit the writers of the letter.
In light of these attacks, The Phillipian Editorial Board has decided to change our online posting policy to discourage anonymity. We now require that commenters make an account using their full name, or first initial and last name, on Disqus, the comment-hosting website, before posting.
Members of the community with productive and honest opinions to offer should not be afraid to be associated with their own beliefs. Just as students shouldn’t shy away from a class discussion just because they have dissenting opinions, they should not hide behind anonymity in a virtual forum such as the phillipian.net comment section.
Because attaching a name to an idea shows the author is invested enough in his or her point to be held responsible for it, avoiding anonymity only adds credibility. Leaving a comment unsigned casts the truth of the entire message into doubt, simply because the reader has no way of knowing the possible motives or extent of the anonymous author’s authority on the subject. The Phillipian does not publish anonymous letters and infrequently cites anonymous sources for this very reason.
The phillipian.net comment section is intended to be a forum for honest discourse that makes the community reflect, learn and grow. We hope that this policy change will encourage students to take responsibility for what they say and elevate the level of discussion to one of even greater conviction and honesty.
These Editorials represent the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXVI.