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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself


Guest Column by Prisca Kim, Opinion Editor

Prisca Guest Column (color)

This past year, I’ve served as the Opinions/Opinion editor of the S&B, and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. To be honest, I was going into the position a little blindly, but I’ve come to love the perks of editing columns, working with some opinionated writers for letters to the editor and of course, working on the beloved Back Page.

However, it has not been all rainbows and butt graphics. Working with contributing writers, particularly for letters to the editor, has been quite the roller coaster ride.

Letters to the editor are meant to be opinionated pieces that address the audience of the S&B, usually on issues that are prevalent and important to the writer of the letter. Usually people will have an idea for an op-ed that they want published, email the [newspapr] account or myself, propose the idea or send in the letter, and then it’ll go through the editing process and be published. Simple enough, right? WRONG.

Grinnell College has a distinct culture where being late and flaking on events/meetings/friends is normalized. Yes, we are all college students struggling to balance academics, extra-curricular activities, work, wellness, social life — the list goes on. We are all busy people, it’s understandable. Missing things like a talk or a lunch date with a friend is not the worst thing to happen — Grinnellians are used to it, and it’s not a big deal. However, it is necessary for students, faculty and administration alike to recognize that there are certain responsibilities and commitments that should be prioritized, for which it is disrespectful and rude to abandon that task.

For me, a commitment to submit and write a letter to the editor is one of these activities that merits prioritization. Put yourself in my shoes: when you have pages of a layout to fill, and when you’re working on deadlines, planning ahead is essential to the job.

There have been a few cases this year where Grinnell College students or administrators have had timely, relevant topics for letters to the editor that they have simply abandoned without any explanation.

Most recently, President Raynard Kington approached the Editors-in-Chief and me about writing an op-ed piece concerning the recent golf club purchase. There were timely and respectful email correspondences in which we agreed to hold off on the piece for a week to allow edits. So far, smooth sailing. Fast forward a week and Kington wants to wait another week to publish it due to new information developing on the subject of his letter. The next week comes, and the day before deadline, Kington decides not to publish the letter at all — without any reason why. This is unacceptable. I work hard at my job and have a lot of patience working in this position, but in a situation like that one, it is not only disappointing but also terrifying to know that the president of our College would withhold information from the student body concerning one of his executive decisions after agreeing to publish a piece on the matter.

This may seem like a unique instance that I am overreacting about, but in another recent instance, a campus organization did something very similar. First, they emailed me three weeks ahead of time about publishing a letter to the editor. The week of their deadline, their event was pushed and we agreed on publishing the following week. This is relatively common. But the following week, after not one, but two reminder emails of their deadlines, I received a response that they “forgot” and “spaced out” about letting me know that they will not be publishing anything.

Interactions like these are offensive and make a mockery out of the newspaper, especially the Opinion section. I never asked or forced you to write these letters. I urge you, Grinnellians, to be aware that your actions have consequences and to have some decency when interacting with others.

Here at Grinnell, we talk about how we have such a strong sense of community, and we take pride in the way we treat each other. In reality, our actions do not reflect those of a community that truly respects one another. Grinnellians, it is so easy to get swept up in your busy schedule and your own lives, but be conscious of how you telling me the night before the pages go to printing that you no longer want to write will have greater implications.

Disclaimer: These opinions do not reflect the opinions of the Scarlet & Black staff and are based on individual experiences.

—Photo by Jeff Li

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