To the Editor:
Andover needs a new public forum. *The Phillipian*, as an institution with immense amounts of social, political and monetary capital, should no longer be the predominant place of publication for student thoughts and ideas.
Editors of *The Phillipian* may rightly feel that they are responsible for the harmful effects of writing that they proof and publish. In “Linguistic Lessons” published in the April 24 edition of *The Phillipian* by Janine Ko ’14, former Executive Editor of *The Phillipian*, she made it clear that language could be harmful, dangerous and even violent. Recent articles in *The Phillipian* reflect and espouse this editorial stance—that certain opinions should not be published.
While understandable, this moralized censorship is problematic because it implies that anything published in *The Phillipian* has been vetted as morally acceptable by its editors. By taking responsibility for everything it publishes, the opinions published by the Commentary section becomes perceived more as the source of truth than as the medium through which students publicize their opinions. The language *The Phillipian* itself uses reflects this reality; consider how students are urged to write “for” *The Phillipian*, rather than publish “through” or “in” *The Phillipian*. Consequently, *The Phillipian* seems to inherently privilege the opinions it publishes over those it does not; anything it publishes seems to automatically lent *The Phillipian’s* social clout and be perceived as though it has the endorsement of the largest student organization on campus, regardless of whether the editorial board actually agrees with an article’s opinion.
The reality is that hurtful viewpoints do exist on campus. The question is not whether these viewpoints should be published, but, rather, whether any individual or group should have the power to decide who is heard and who is not. We believe that no one should have this power. Instead, articles should be evaluated directly by readers, and not through the filter of a mediating body with its own reputation to consider. A direct relationship between authors and readers would shift responsibility for the content and impact of articles from a centralized institution to the author’s themselves. Authors would benefit by not needing to have their work edited by a third party whose motives may not necessarily line up with their own. Readers would benefit because they would be exposed to a larger range of opinions, and because they would be able to evaluate the merit of these opinions without having to consider that they have been approved by an editorial staff.
Imagine an online, decentralized medium through which students could publish their thoughts, ideas and experiences. All posts would be linked to students’ Andover email accounts so as to ensure that authors are held responsible for what they publish. The articles that the community deems important would rise to the top via a voting system. In the digital age, this hypothetical scenario is a very real possibility. Stay tuned, Andover.
Keton Kakkar ’15
Will Reid ’15