The Daily Northwestern

Letter from the Opinion Editor: How The Daily Can Do Better

Jessica Schwalb, Opinion Editor

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I can’t say I love every piece the Opinion section publishes. In fact, I’m often its most vocal critic. At its best, the section serves as a platform for writers to share their viewpoints and lived experiences. It highlights issues that may not be given much airtime on our campus. It facilitates debate, which then hopefully leads to action. But this quarter, Opinion hopes to take a hard look at the ways we can do better.

To start, we will work to feature writers who are more representative of Northwestern’s student body. It is my job as editor to make sure our section does a better job finding variance of voice, to address the lack of racial and political diversity. We can’t be a platform for all students if most of our columnists look like one another, or look like me. When our newsroom is more inclusive, when our desk is less white and male than it has been, we can better serve to challenge the status quo. The Opinion section is a valuable space to raise up those voices that are most urgently calling for change and action on our campus. We should always be writing with the goal of agitation and action, with the aim to spark dialogue.

Writing for The Daily has the potential to affect not only readers’ personal positions but also administrative policy. The Daily’s status as the university’s paper of record and sizable readership means Opinion can both reveal and reset the campus status quo. With high hopes for what the section can achieve and with respect to past editors and columnists, I also plan to seek additional voices to write for the section this quarter. Which issues do you care about? Which issues do you wish fellow students cared more about? What kind of action do you wish students, faculty or administrators would take? I look forward to finding contributors who will answer these questions and challenge existing norms in the section.

I stumbled into Opinion almost accidentally last winter, upon the prodding of a friend and Daily staffer who encouraged me to apply to become a columnist. After my Fall Quarter of sitting quietly in the newsroom as a copy editor, I wasn’t sure exactly what a freshman, non-Medill writer could offer the Opinion section. The freedom to write and argue a topic of my choice felt both exciting and intimidating.

During the next two quarters of writing columns, resulting YikYak hate, Facebook arguments and campus controversy didn’t deter me from coming back, but rather proved to me the value of the Opinion section. Hearing from students who came to me with anger or defensiveness after reading my columns was just as impactful as talking with others who agreed. I began to see how Opinion could push and challenge this campus. It is my hope this quarter that we continue to do so without reservation.

Jessica Schwalb is a Weinberg sophomore. She can be contacted at jessicaschwalb2019@u.northwestern.edu. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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