Letter from the Opinion Editor: This is a space for you

Troy Closson, Opinion Editor

I couldn’t figure out how to start this column. Since the last day of publication in the fall, so much has happened: from the passage of the Republican tax bill, to further challenges against immigration as hundreds of thousands of Salvadoran immigrants lose their protected status, to heightened conversations about sexual assault and harassment and the creation of Time’s Up by women in Hollywood — and that’s only within the United States. Entering my second quarter as The Daily’s Opinion Editor, I’m excited for the potential this section has to spark dialogue on campus. But I also understand that many of these issues require serious care.

Lately, I’ve felt like I can’t even keep up with everything that’s happening in the U.S. and throughout the world. Before I even begin to understand one shocking news notification, another one pops up. For me, it has been hard to process a lot of what’s happening both in the world and in my own life at times because of how quickly a new breaking story takes the front page. But this desk should serve as a way for members of the Northwestern community to speak their minds, process what’s happening and spark a greater dialogue on what matters to them.

When I joined Opinion last winter, I did so because I had things on my mind — topics I saw weren’t being written about, concerns that weren’t being addressed at NU. I wanted to talk about things that mattered to me, especially in the context of my own identity as a black man. And when I was applying to be Opinion Editor for the first time this past fall, my biggest focus was bringing greater diversity into the group of writers — from more people of color to more women to more non-liberal writers — at this desk. And that’s still my focus now. If you have something to say, I want to hear it.

Still, I understand that many campus publications haven’t always had the best reputation for handling nuanced issues that impact marginalized communities and I’m fully aware that many people don’t always feel properly represented by The Daily. Even within the newsroom myself, there’s been times I’ve felt the same way. But for this quarter while I’m Opinion Editor, I’ll always be cognizant of the impact writers’ words can have by making others feel isolated, tokenized or forgotten on campus, whether intentionally or not. Microaggressions or hate against others has no place on this page. That doesn’t mean you’ll always agree with every column that comes out of this section — I don’t always either. But I’m committed to making this desk a space where people of all identities and backgrounds can feel comfortable sharing their opinions and not feel blatantly disrespected or targeted by what they read.

This quarter, I’m also planning to work to make The Spectrum a more prominent part of this section. In 2014, The Spectrum was created as a space for marginalized students on campus to share their stories, perspectives and thoughts on issues that occur on and beyond NU. Recently, however, The Spectrum hasn’t always been a large focus, and the section no longer has separate editors. But I just want to say that it’s still a fundamentally important part of the Opinion page. I encourage anyone interested in writing a column or personal piece to reach out — no one is expected to represent their identity group, but your words are valuable.

Ultimately, the Opinion section should strive to highlight and represent the diversity of voices in the Northwestern community. And with that, I’m open to any suggestions, criticisms and concerns about this section and its content. While I plan to take a deeper look into what can be improved within Opinion myself, I also want to hear what you want to see changed. I’ll listen.

Your opinions matter. With so many jarring news alerts every day, it’s often easy to feel overwhelmed or just sit back and complain about what’s going on. Taking time to actively reflect on what’s happening, work to process it and share what you have to say is so much harder. But now more than ever, it’s so important to speak up and make your voice heard.

Troy Closson is a Medill sophomore. Troy can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.