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Every Monday evening, the Board shuffles into the newsroom and Editors take their seats (or couches, or counters). We spend the first part of our weekly board meetings doing a redline of the paper, looking through our latest issue and pointing out areas where we can improve. After section rundown and our pizza break (arguably the most anticipated part of the night), we begin EdTalk, where we decide what ends up in this space in the paper every week.
Last Monday, we didn’t end up reaching an agreement on an angle or topic; instead, we spent the majority of EdTalk arguing about various ideas and differing opinions. The Editorial is meant to represent the views of the whole paper, but because our Board is comprised of 42 individuals, compromise is hard to find, and the process of looking for it often frustrating.
A solution to this frustration? Perhaps letting go of the sentence that has traditionally followed all of our Editorials, “This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian, vol. CXLII.” Though this might feel drastic, it’s important to note that ‘split’ Editorials are not a completely foreign concept to The Phillipian— in the past, we’ve published side-by-side Editorials expressing contrasting opinions, pieces that are signed by individual members of the paper.
Our proposal in this Editorial, though, isn’t to change the format of our weekly thoughts to Opinion A vs. Opinion B, but rather to open up the floor for willing Editors or Associates to write on behalf of a subset of the board, even if others disagree with the opinion being presented. After all, controversial topics and hard-hitting arguments can often garner the greatest disparity in opinion. As we stand right now, one board member’s hesitance to embrace an angle pitched in EdTalk can mean moving on from that issue entirely.
In other words, it becomes easiest for us, as a Board, to default to more trivial or less impactful topics (some common suggestions include Spring term weather, the housing lottery, and 8pm Sunday sign in). But why should one opposing opinion prevent a legitimate stance from being voiced on a platform we all should have access to? Why should the prioritization of agreement water down what could otherwise be a powerful and argumentative opinion?
Obviously, there are merits to keeping our Editorial ‘whole,’ so to speak. For one, there’s power in writing a piece that has the backing of an entire group, and nuance that comes with the process of grappling with a diversity of opinions. There might also be issues that arise in splitting editorials up— anonymity is somewhat provided through this platform, and arguments about ownership may arise if specific names are attached to ideas that get published.
All the same, though, it might be about time to embrace those challenges. We might start cherishing the power of a board-wide Editorial more, for instance. Our EdTalks might become more productive as individuals can develop their ideas without the fear of getting shut down. Editors who have particular passion for niche topics might find space to voice their thoughts. The meaningful conversations that we’ll inevitably have in smaller groups on Wednesday night might just make it to the paper.
At the end of the day, we all put out an issue of The Phillipian together. There’s little disagreement that our work is collaborative—a collective challenge in which we depend on each other and learn from each other. By acknowledging that our Editorial doesn’t always represent the views of the whole board, we might be making room for another, equally important and beautiful part of The Phillipian—individual voices.