Op-ed. It means, most literally, the articles laid out on the page opposite the primary editorial of a news publication. To be less exact, it means the opinion pieces written by staff members of the publication which do not necessarily, represent the views of the publication, but rather are the views of the author.
For The Torch, these articles are written by a slew of staff writers and editors. They are by-lined articles addressing whatever issues the writers feel are important during any given week. The article you are reading now, however, is the token editorial, the sole work within the pages of The Torch that express the view of the entire newspaper staff.
It has always been difficult to explain this to readers. Many believe, understandably, that anything we publish is our own version of a story or our collective opinion. This is not the case.
A good op-ed piece is one that is able to use facts and figures to create an argument in favor of a particular viewpoint. By utilizing outside information, the writer is able to incite a reaction from readers and, in a truly brilliant op-ed piece, persuade the readers to see things their way.
Recently, an op-ed piece written by a staff member criticized the RUSH process of Greek Life organizations. Following the publication of the article, a firestorm erupted within the Greek community. Members of the various Greek Life organizations were upset by the column and felt that it should not have been published. And while we, as writers, accept this different point of view as equal to our own, the way in which this viewpoint was presented was inappropriate.
In a college newspaper, especially, differences of opinion must be tolerated. In any institution of higher learning, diverging viewpoints are necessary to create an open discourse and to promote learning and growth. However, students and administrators alike chose not to enter into an educational discourse and rather to attack the writer as well as the editors of The Torch.
Bertrand Russell once said, “Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd,” and he was proven correct by the St. John’s community last week. Although we gave dissenters every opportunity for public rebuttal and pledged to publish any letters to the editor that should arrive, none came, much to our disappointment. Instead, our writer was subjected to public persecution and our editor in chief was verbally attacked. These methods of dissent are unprofessional and immature and accomplish nothing.
If such belittlement is an attempt at quashing our opinion, it will not work. We will not be silenced. The Torch will continue to print, with or without support from these readers. If difference of opinion cannot be tolerated in an academic environment, then there is much work to be done before the members of this community can call themselves educated.