Editor’s Note: This year two candidates are running for editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan in the campus-wide elections. The editor of the Texan, elected by the entire student body, has three primary responsibilities: 1) to oversee the paper’s opinion content, 2) to set policy for the paper and 3) to serve as the paper’s representative to the campus community and beyond. Per the TSM election code, the candidates, David Davis Jr. and Claire Smith, have been asked to write two 500-word columns. The second column focuses on a topic of the candidate’s choosing relating to their campaign. Candidates wrote their own headlines. Only light typographical corrections were made. For more information on the candidates, please visit our candidate database here.
When I first tried out for The Daily Texan, I did not feel confident in being hired because my personal beliefs did not match the viewpoint often expressed in the Texan in past years.
Soon after I was hired, I wrote a column about the difficulty in starting a national dialogue about race in the wake of rioting in Ferguson, Missouri. It was a challenging column because there are many people who know the issue more personally and more acutely than I do.
Although called upon to express my opinion, I worried that it would not be valued because my personal experience is less direct. Whether on Ferguson or any other burning issue, I believe many students on campus feel the same way -- our opinions on the important issues of our day and on the issues most important to our campus aren’t worthy of expression in our own student newspaper. That’s why I’m running for editor-in-chief. If I am elected, I will do everything in my power to build an inclusive opinion page that opens the door to the broad diversity of opinion on campus. I want you to be heard.
Inclusiveness means opening the editorial door to all thoughtfully considered, well-expressed opinions. We don’t have to look too far in the news to find things that will affect people on campus. And UT students ought to be heard on those issues. We don’t share a two-dimensional campus either. There are more opinions than those that come only from the right or from the left. Those opinions deserve to be expressed too. I will fight to make sure that all legitimate opinions get a fair hearing without entertaining expressions of hate or uninformed vitriol.
To me, inclusiveness means growth. A vibrant opinion page encourages the expression of different and competing viewpoints. Too often editorial pages are slanted and biased, and the Texan has been guilty of that in the past. On my watch, the opinion page will be an open forum where ideas can be debated, the diversity of campus opinion can be expressed, and consensus opinions can be challenged and defended.
There are people on campus who don’t want the opinion page to be more inclusive. They’re satisfied in “safe” expressions of opinion, preferably their own. But we are better than that.
We shouldn’t be afraid of ideas. Our ideas are what make The Daily Texan matter. The free expression of those ideas opens our understanding of ourselves, our community and our world. That is worth protecting and celebrating.
My editorship will be dedicated to ensuring all the diversity of opinion on our campus can be expressed in our student newspaper, because it’s our newspaper. My opinion page will be inclusive. It will empower students to thoughtfully express their own beliefs, to challenge other beliefs, and to grow. Our University exists for all of us, and so must The Daily Texan.
As editor-in-chief, I will be your advocate, fight for your voice, and make this your Daily Texan.
Smith is a history and humanities junior from Austin. She is running for editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan.