Letter to the Editor: Daily Northwestern Editorial Board must handle itself in more professional, respectful manner

Paul Jackson, Weinberg senior

Editorials should be a voice of reason in service to the community, a guiding light, a tempered caretaker of heightened, elevated discourse. In response to the Associated Student Government Executive Board confirmation hearings, The Daily Northwestern Editorial Board posted what amounts to an anti-diversity rallying cry. The sentiment was rallied in the comment section and at Fox News, who made great use of The Daily’s words. Arrogant and ignorant in tone, without respectful consideration of both sides, The Daily Editorial Board disregards the fundamental values of an editorial; it was not reasonable, it was not tempered, it provided no guidance in any direction forward. James Baldwin once wrote that the problem of intolerant society is that it is governed by those who have the most limited perspective, that its leaders embody “ignorance, aligned with power.” Baldwin could have been writing about the Daily Northwestern Editorial Board, who, though clearly uninformed about the stakes in the diversity debate, speak with authoritative condescension.

The Daily needs the same education that Stephen Piotrkowski received at the confirmation hearing: If you are not qualified in knowledge or experience, you should not aspire to authority. Contrary to The Daily’s ignorant suggestion, being a white male did not disqualify Piotrkowski from holding a position of leadership. However, as a white male, Piotrkowski has enjoyed the privilege of not having to meaningfully encounter multicultural communities and leaders. Inhabiting and embodying a dominant culture, category, or communities allows for insulation and isolation from difference, at one’s wishes. When asked whether he had worked with or even knew leaders in the multicultural communities, he was caught out, only to learn that having a lesbian sister or growing up Jewish in a Christian community does not qualify leadership of diversity initiatives anymore than being queer or of color; taking initiative and promoting cross-community diversity qualifies leadership. So being white does not disqualify you from leading a diversity board, but being out of touch with anything other than white spaces, white faces and white social graces and making no effort to change that most certainly disqualifies you.

Any possibility that Piotrkowski was the best option means that ASG needs more qualified leadership on diversity and inclusion. Settling for the “best available” candidate shows that the selection committee didn’t take ASG’s diversification seriously. When it comes to equality and justice, settling is unacceptable. The Daily Northwestern needs to get hip to this. Its leadership embodies the problem of diversity at NU: ignorance aligned with power. Being born into insulated and isolated privilege does not disqualify you from fighting insulation and isolation, but the first insulation and isolation you have to fight is your own, as an individual or an organization.

Paul Jackson, Weinberg senior