Note: Yes, we realize our section is largely a bunch of white or white-proximate people, but shit is shit regardless and needs to be called out for what it is.
“Racists end up aging like cottage cheese, and there is a burden and tons of intellectual labor that goes along with waking racists up to their bullshit, which isn’t the responsibility or duty of a Brown woman like me.” – A
Through this piece, the Opinions and Editorials Section of The Lawrentian intends to:
Critique, and hold The Lawrentian accountable for its heinous practices that have hurt the student body, especially its most marginalized students. We intend to propose a set of action items that should be under constant revision and should consistently evolve as the needs of students do. We welcome criticism, input and scrutiny, as these are ongoing issues that require constant collaboration.
These practices include but are not limited to:
●Prioritizing the perspective of LU administration when covering stories on demonstrations, racism, issues on diversity and much more over that of students. We don’t think we need to remind anyone of how power dynamics work and who has power, agency and rights in spaces and how that is portrayed in writing, especially at a Predominantly White Institution (PWI)…
●Inaccurately portraying events of LU’s POC student community such as Cultural Expressions, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, MLK DAY, Black History Month, Native American Heritage Month, etc.
●Sidelining articles written by Indigenous students by placing them in the Features Section of all places (LIKE WTF), relegating Indigeneity to a mere sideshow or prop and robbing Lawrentian-sanctioned coverage of Indigenous Peoples’ Day of front-page dignity.
— This was supposedly a “nuanced” and “difficult” decision to make, but, in reality, it was a choice to prioritise the “rules” and practices of a student-run newspaper over the actual students of LUNA. The Lawrentian shouldn’t have to wait for people to speak out against these actions to understand their discriminatory underpinnings.
●Dismissing criticism of the newspaper’s practices, refusing to specifically and intentionally address racist, anti-Black and discriminatory behavior. Often using passive language to vaguely and indirectly address issues that have been called out and sweeping said issues under the rug.
●Largely conducting internal hiring practices which perpetuate inequality through systems of nepotistic opportunity, which ignore marginalized students’ voices.
●Assigning writers to cover events like Cultural Expressions and Indigenous People’s day without having attended them personally.
●Failing to properly educate writers and the editorial board on genuinely how to conduct anti-racist work that efficiently decolonizes The Lawrentian as a space while also addressing racism, classism, ableism and anti-Blackness within The Lawrentian.
Get in losers, we are going to be doing some real work:
“Let us word this in a more digestible way for you: Get your life together, binch.”
Here’s a model for how The Lawrentian needs to function moving forward in light of its poisonous practices of the past and present. This is a living set of ideas, meaning it should be under constant change, scrutiny and revision. Action items should reflect the needs of students. Action items must be fulfilled if The Lawrentian plans to maintain its relevance.
●In light of criticism, especially criticism towards The Lawrentian’s bullshit practices, the editorial board needs to own up to itself and apologize adequately.
— Adequate apologies shouldn’t ask for forgiveness or clamour for good PR, but should instead cite specific examples of the newspaper’s wrongdoings alongside concrete ideas for reconciling and advancing beyond those wrongdoings.
●Anti-racist work needs to call for anti-racist training rather than, say, implicit bias training that gives off the good feelings of progress without the meaningful work of sacrifice, self-reflection and change.
●Look for outside educators that specialize in anti-racist, decolonial and social justice work that is specific to journalism and media. Invest in this training every news cycle with that big budget you receive from LUCC 🙂
●Ask your writers, photographers and peers what they would like to learn about as they go through this process of unlearning. There are a lot of structures and complexities to learn about and pick at that we have ALL internalized, so make sure to mix it up.
●Make it clear that every student perspective and experience is valued, respected and supported in the language used by writers and in the placement of the pieces that highlight these experiences
●Get away from those harmful stereotypes that are attributed to BIPOC individuals. Make sure you are representing them in the best light. Ask yourself, how am I representing the narratives of these groups in my piece? Am I exploiting the intellect of these groups or persons in my piece? Where should these articles be placed? Am I potentially reducing these persons to harmful stereotypes? Am I tokenizing these individuals? Would I want to be represented in this way in a written and published piece?
●The Lawrentian must be beholden and accountable to the student body so that, when it commits actions that hurts its marginalized students, the editorial board cannot walk away scot-free without committing to change.
●Publicly rebut The Lawrentian’s inadequate response, published in the staff editorial of October 30th, 2020, to ongoing criticism directed toward it and its editorial board. Be specific when addressing the collective and ongoing B.S. that was inherited, polished and perpetuated by current and past editorial boards and Lawrentian staff.
●Platform marginalized voices at The Lawrentian, especially as those represented by various diversity organizations, who work hard to make Lawrence a better place for its marginalized students, are often left unacknowledged or completely ignored.
●Celebrate the work of diversity organizations and give them recognition outside of the holidays given by old white men in their performative attempt at social justice reform.
— Are you ensuring that this is how diversity organizations want to be portrayed? Are you asking them?
●Work with CODA, Dr. Bell and LUCC to implement ethical hiring practices, anti-racist training, inclusive and equitable policies and standards and invest funding into hiring BIPOC as part of the editorial board and trainings for all staff.
●Discussing these issues in The Lawrentian should not just be limited to the Opinions and Editorials section.
●Essentially, is The Lawrentian ensuring that BIPOC individuals and diversity organizations have shared authorship rights? Especially within the pieces that attempt to represent them?
— If not, really ask why that is. Training? Rules? The Lawrentian is apparently only beholden to the student body, so if that’s the case, then change the rules, change the standards. Following a procedure is NEVER more important than students ability to authentically and freely express themselves and their experiences.
●Do not ever think this work is done. It is not done.
The Lawrentian is cool we guess… but imagine how much cooler it will be when we actually get to work? An anti-racist, decolonized, ethical and equitable Lawrentian sounds sexy (insert drool emoji here). Once again, this should be a collaborative project. The Lawrentian is not trusted to conduct this work on its own and must seek out the assistance of student governance and administrative governance officials to ensure that these action steps are completed moving forward. Lawrence University also has limited resources in terms of the trainings we offer for “diversity and inclusion,” so The Lawrentian needs to seek out the assistance of educators that are experts in anti-racist training that is specific to media. Moving forward, it is the intention of the Op-Ed section to welcome the feedback of students on these matters. It was our intention to make sure this wasn’t just another sad attempt at addressing racism, discrimination and all of the other uglies. We hope that this was serious, possibly humorous, and most importantly showcased that this is a DEAL-BREAKER. So, please, before we break up with you: GET YOUR LIFE TOGETHER, BINCH.
With love xoxo the one and only gossip folks at the Op-Ed section.