Editorial: Debate needs unpopular opinions

On Sept. 2, we ran a column titled “Only responsibility can stop rape” by Rob Monteleone along with another column titled “Perpetrators are the only thing that can prevent rape” by Elizabeth Hannah.

These columns were packaged together in our “head-to-head” feature in the opinions section. We understand that it was not clearly presented online that Monteleone’s column was complementary to Hannah’s rebuttal. We have corrected this now.

The way the “head-to-head” feature works is by showing two perspectives on a multifaceted issue. It is not necessarily a “pro-con” piece, and the implication is not that the two sides are equal and opposite.

There are no equal or opposite perspectives on sexual assault. It’s not a one- or two- or even three-sided issue. If it was, these columns would not have generated the range of reactions and the public debate that they did.

The disclaimer that we print at the bottom of the opinions page Monday through Thursday states that the columns on our page represent the opinion of their authors, not the opinion of this editorial board, nor of this paper.

We don’t print that for our health. We print that because we have a responsibility to publish ideas that we do not agree with. We do not want that decision to publish to be misconstrued as an endorsement of the content.

Monteleone is a student here, and his views are shared by others (hopefully not many of them). We’re representing a portion of the student body, even if it’s one that we find unsavory.

Many are saying that the UA’s reputation was hurt by this discussion. This might not be the school you want it to be, its student body might encompass people with ideas you find offensive, and it might have problems that you wish did not exist.

But the reality is that our university and its students are imperfect. And we are one platform for debate on those imperfections.

People hold various views on issues surrounding rape, alcohol and consent. Withholding columns and refusing space to address this debate does not eliminate this debate’s existence, nor does it make the danger to women or the trauma of sexual assault survivors disappear from campus.

Marginalizing certain groups within this debate will not make it easier or more effectual. If we truly hope to reach solutions and consensus on campus sexual assault issues, we need to encourage comprehensive, inclusive debate. This is why our responsibilities and ethics as a community newspaper compel us to, at times, run opinions that we don’t agree with.

As members of the editorial board, we’d like to amend the headline of Monteleone’s column. It’s true that only responsibility can stop rape, but that responsibility doesn’t lie with any specific group: It lies with everyone.

It lies with a culture steeped in sexism and gender violence. It lies with individuals who make irresponsible and illegal decisions. And it lies with each and every student, administrator and faculty member at this university.

We are outraged by the ongoing sexual assault crisis on campuses across this country. Rape is always a despicable, dehumanizing crime. If we could, we would do something to eradicate rape on our campus entirely. As editors, that isn’t in our power. But it is in yours.

—Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat editorial board and written by its members. They are Joey Fisher, Ethan McSweeney, Jacquelyn Oesterblad and Katelyn Kennon.


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