In defense of the purpose of opinion articles

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By Erin Delman

Editor’s Note: This article is in response to comments posted online for the January 12, 2012 article titled, The political weight of the Keystone XL pipeline by Erin Delman. 

My article this week must begin with certain caveats. Firstly, for those who read my column, it should come as no surprise that I consider the Union student body to be, on the whole, apathetic. Secondly, many of the students who do not fall into this unfortunate archetype disagree with my political inclinations.

That being said, I make a conscious attempt to respect other peoples’ opinions, or lack-there-of. As I’ve mentioned in past articles, I hold responsibilities in my role as a student journalist.

The Concordiensis must serve as a forum for discussion among members of the Union community, and therefore, the journalists and editors must maintain a modicum of civility and a commitment to presenting factual information.

Editorial pieces should not be diatribes, but rather an assertion of opinion and an attempt to educate or persuade.

I do not expect my peers, professors, or the Union alumni to agree with what I write; on the contrary, I welcome comments on my articles that question my sources, logic, and conclusions. After all, that is my job as an opinion writer for an independently run college publication: to stimulate intellectual thinking and foster healthy debate.

So I want to draw attention to recent critiques of my article on the Keystone XL pipeline on the Concordiensis website.

Ignore the fact that many of the claims by commenters Chris and Seattle were flagrantly erroneous. But statements such as “why don’t you finish school and get a job – preferably NOT in journalism,” “when you and your classmates graduate and are begging for bread in the street (or when you are on welfare, which eventually will run out),” and “I hope you are happy with the havoc you and the rest of your empty-headed Green ilk have wrought.’

Granted, it sends jolts of hostility through my body when I read a line such as “you have a lot of nerve using the phrase ‘egregiously contrived and manipulated’…it’s a more apt description of your writing style! DO you have an original thought in your head, or do you plan to make a living regurgitating Sierra Club talking points?”

That being said, I’m more concerned on how these comments reflect on members of the Union community, which I assume provides the vast majority of our readership.

In the past, misspellings, improper grammar, and anonymous hostility have made their way to the virtual comment board as well. Comments such as these present close-mindedness and lack of class that I would hate to have attributed with my institution.

An attack on my life choices and writing style misses the purpose of the column entirely, and does little to benefit the academic experience of students on campus.

I hope that in the future, the Concordiensis as well as its online forums will be valued as a source of Union news as well as opinions, and a crucial intellectual component of our campus, rather than a tool for gossip and animosity.

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