October 21, 2014

Public editor: Rejected article raises questions of racial bias

Last week, The Maroon Viewpoints section rejected a student submission entitled, “What Does Ferguson have to do with the South Side?”. The piece commented on racism, both nationally and in Hyde Park, with specific mention of campus rhetoric, O-Week, and the UCPD. Upon rejection, it was instead published online on the author’s personal blog and publicized via Facebook, which enticed inquiry and debate over why the piece was rejected and if racial discrimination or bias was to blame. I take these questions and allegations very seriously, and as such, would like to comment on them here.

The article passed through traditional editorial channels  and was ultimately rejected for a myriad of reasons all related exclusively to the quality of writing and argument per the judgment of two viewpoints editors. It was not rejected due to disregard for race-related issues or racial discrimination of any kind. I will not go into further detail as to why the piece was rejected­—this conversation occurred among editors and I do not think publicly sharing it is necessary or beneficial. Editors reserve the right to reject submissions if they do not meet requirements and such rejections are necessary in order to establish and maintain quality standards. It is true that in the past, certain Viewpoints articles have been subpar. Yet, previous standards for publication are not and should not necessarily be indicative of current or future standards.

That being said, much of the debate and frustration surrounding the article’s rejection alluded to a larger institutional problem—the fact that racism and related topics are not often enough a part of campus discussion. As the official student newspaper, The Maroon is responsible for acting as an inclusive platform for student opinion, articles on race being no exception. I urge The Maroon to seek out a greater diversity of opinion to ensure that important topics, such as race, are given fair representation. I urge you—the reader—to continue to submit articles and letters. The quality and content of the Viewpoints section begins with you.

The rejected Viewpoints submission attempted to remedy this media inattention and invigorate racial discussion on campus, though unfortunately did not meet Viewpoints quality standards. The decision was not based upon race or disregard for racial issues. Any future submissions that tackle race and meet quality standards will be published.

If you have any concerns about racial discrimination, or any types of discrimination, as related to The Maroon, I encourage you to contact me at publiceditor@chicagomaroon.com.

­—Ingrid Sydenstricker, Class of 2016