Editorial, Opinion

EDITORIAL: Discrimination

As a matter of form, this column does not usually respond to letters written to the Editor. On this occasion, however, we would like to respond to one that appears on the editorial pages today and has been circulating around campus.

The letter, signed by the President of the Black Student Union (UMOJA) Jeffrey Smith and members of the Boston University Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is an indictment of The Daily Free Press’ coverage of minority issues on campus and our insensitivity to the needs and interests of minorities and black students.

To an extent, it is correct. Our lack of coverage of the first meeting of UMOJA this year is a good example of the occasional lapses in our news digging instincts. It was an important meeting attended by a large number of people and there is no excuse for our oversight.

Similarly, our error in not recognizing UMOJA as a co-sponsor of the Lonnie Liston Smith concert was poor reporting. Unfortunately, such errors occur too often and we do our best to catch them. We also greatly appreciate people pointing them out to us.

But to say this error “fueled the fires of segregated attitudes among students here at BU” is highly irresponsible and inflammatory. If such an event is geared to increase racial awareness and unity on campus, how can such a statement hope to achieve such goals? The error was an example of incomplete reporting, and to interpret it as a racial slight only aggravates the “us and them” attitude you hope to dispel.

Here at The Daily Free Press positions are based on merit. As in any other newspaper, people start out on the lowest rung and work their way up, based on desire and achievement. And as everyone knows, our doors are open to any student on campus, regardless of color.

Unfortunately, few minority or black students have come through our doors and stayed for any length of time. This is not an excuse, it is a fact. To suggest that we appoint a member of the minority community to assist us in gathering news pertinent to minorities and blacks is not in keeping with our policies, which we strongly believe are fair.

But more importantly, such a position would only serve to aggravate racial and ethnic divisions. We would never send a black reporter to cover a story simply because it has a black angle. We send reporters out to cover news. If they are black, white, oriental or hispanic is of no concern to us, and it shouldn’t be. The news is reported to be consumed by all people. If a reporter can convey his message to the greatest number of people, regardless of race or color, he is a better reporter. To suggest that minorities should cover minority issues is, in our view, regressive.

We urge all groups to come to us with information about their events and activities. While it is our job to find news, it is only with the cooperation of the rest of the community that we can best do our job. It is time we lay down our differences and work towards everyone’s ultimate goal: equality for all.

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