VIEW: Communication

This week, a resolution was proposed to Student Senate that would cut funding to The Dakota Student. Though we didn’t learn of this resolution’s existence until the night before it was heard, we spoke at the meeting and cleared the air. The resolution was withdrawn after we had a chance to open up the floor to discussion. Below is a coarse summary of what happened.

Of the many claims made by the resolution, we have space here to address two of them.

First is the resolution’s claim that “Students whose opinions differ from those of The Dakota Student and staff are being silenced.”

First of all, we at The Dakota Student do not all hold the same political beliefs by any means. If you don’t believe us, our meetings are open to the public and anybody has the right to attend. By doing so, you will see that we are not in the business of telling fellow UND students how to think.

One of the reasons this claim was included in the resolution is because one of the authors submitted a letter to the editor that did not get published. It was not withheld due to its political perspective.

We do not hold any letter to the editor based on whatever political or religious perspective it supports, since, frankly, it makes absolutely no difference to us.

We do not evaluate ourselves as journalists based on how many columns in the opinion section get printed that align with our own ideals. The author’s letter was withheld for not meeting the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics (to which The Dakota Student adheres) by failing to “minimize harm” in its message.

We do not have to tolerate letters that treat fellow students with disrespect. Additionally, there have been letters to the editor from all sorts of political ideologies that we have held for doing so.

Another claim of the resolution is that The Dakota Student “does not express a fair representation of the University.”

While we don’t necessarily blame anyone for not reading the footnotes under our contact information on page two, it is explicitly states that, “Opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of UND or the administration, faculty, staff or student body of UND.”

We hire the writers who apply, and those are the people whose opinions are published in the paper. If you have a problem with the opinions being expressed in the paper, be the change that you want to see in it and, please, apply.

We have not and never will turn away an applicant because of their personal beliefs. This may come as a surprise to the authors of the resolution, but there are plenty of times that we disagree entirely with the opinions being expressed by our opinion writers.

Nobody would be more happy to see a greater diversity of opinions in the opinion section than us. There have been advertisements in every single issue in the opinion section this year seeking new writers. If you don’t want to work for The Dakota Student, you are more than welcome to submit a letter to the editor, but again, we are not obligated to publish it and will not publish it if it is disrespectful to fellow UND students.

The fact of the matter is that we would be more than happy to sit down with any UND student or staff member to discuss how we can work together to make the newspaper better. We’ve done this before, and every time, both parties have left happier than they were coming in.

The authors want the university to have a student news source that represents the student body to the best of its ability. This is also our goal. Removing student fees from The Dakota Student budget would not help us get better.

We’re glad Student Government heard us out and that it was open communication that put everyone at ease — it usually does.

Will Beaton is the editor-in-chief of The Dakota Student. Larry Philbin is the news editor of The Dakota Student. They can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected].