Op-Ed | Why Tufts needs The Primary Source
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 08:10
My name is Austin Berg, I want to bring back the Primary Source and I am not stupid, crazy or mean-spirited.
While I was studying abroad last year, I watched the Source make another in a long series of hurtful mistakes. Last December, the former Editor-in-Chief Chris Piraino accidentally copied and pasted a horribly misogynist Christmas Carol from the 1999 Holiday Issue.
Humiliated, Chris self-imposed a semester-long suspension on the publication. Discouraged, he failed to take the necessary steps to keep the Source recognized as an active student organization. In June, I was informed that the Source had been completely de-recognized. I was sad about it.
Chris’ mistake is exemplary of what the Source has meant to me since I came to a general interest meeting during my second week at Tufts. It’s an institution that I value, with a past that I am embarrassed by. This summer, I made the decision to rectify that unsettling, deeply personal dialectic I’ve carried with me throughout my time here. I wanted to make that publication something the Tufts community could disagree with, yet still be proud to have. Then, as most of our generation are wont to do, I second-guessed myself. A lot. The Primary Source carries a brutally negative connotation on this campus, and I thought that maybe it deserved to die that way. Six weeks into this semester, I’m convinced that it shouldn’t.
Tufts’ adjunct faculty unionized, Tufts Divest passed a referendum and Justice Scalia came to speak — these were three undoubtedly “major” events on our campus, yet not a single unified voice in opposition to the majority opinion on these issues was heard. At a university that prides itself on critical thinking, that is deeply unsettling. Here’s what you, a student of Tufts University, were afforded in the way of political dialogue on those issues:
A highly motivated Tufts Labor Coalition voiced grievances to the administration, believing that unionizing this group of professionals was something to be accepted and encouraged, while failing to address the practical consequences (for example, higher tuition) of such action. The administration responded, failing to address the real issue at hand: unprecedented growth in administrative costs at universities nationwide while faculty resources continue to flat-line. The vote to unionize passed overwhelmingly.
Tufts Divest, which made headlines by interrupting a prospective students’ information session last spring, published multiple op-eds to encourage students to “Vote Yes to Divest,” though The Daily opposed the referendum in an editorial. Seventy-four percent of voters went on to support a formal request for Tufts to divest its holdings in fossil fuel-related enterprises, provided it does not adversely affect the financial status of the university.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia came to speak on “Interpreting the Constitution.” The Justice’s presence was met with derision and protest (both totally legitimate expressions of opinion) due to his knowingly restricting the rights of minority groups because of their identities. Whether or not that is an accurate description of Scalia’s constitutional reasoning doesn’t matter. What does seem to matter is that the man who came to speak at Tufts near this time a mere two years ago, Bill Clinton — the man who signed into law both DOMA and “Don’t ask, don’t tell” — heard barely a peep from these students. Why? I’d venture to guess that it speaks to an intolerance and double standard that has greatly harmed political dialogue on this campus.
Whether or not we agree with the opposing views in a debate, if we consider an issue important, we must at least know what they are. Tufts does not currently have a publication designed to serve as a space to engage with those views, views shared by a portion of our student body that is not insignificant, views that are discouraged from being voiced.
Let me be clear. You, the reader, have every reason to be critical of The Primary Source. You have every reason to be critical of me. You have every reason to be suspicious of claims to engender “post-partisan, rational dialogue.” (You know that’s where I’m headed with this, right?) With that in mind, I propose a deal. The Primary Source will publish articles worth your time and emotional investment. They will be insightful, reasoned and respectful — not partisan, insulting or controversial-for-controversy’s-sake.
Here’s your end of the deal: Recognize the humanity of your peers. That’s it. It’s really easy. Here’s how easy it is. Treat everyone whom you disagree with like they’re your best friend and they just told you what they think about an issue. You don’t really care about your best friend’s political label or the connotations therein. You don’t care about the talking points surrounding that idea. You don’t care about phrasing your response in a way that cuts the deepest. You care about your best friend.
Our general interest meeting is tonight at 9 p.m. in the Mayer Campus Center, room 112. If you feel like your views don’t fit into the dominant political dialogue on campus, please come and write for us. If you have any personal questions or concerns about this revival process, email us at email@example.com.