On Anonymity

Over the past two semesters we have seen a number of anonymous articles submitted to The Acorn, articles that we have published because our mission as the school’s newspaper is to give all students a voice. This includes students that might face repercussions for openly expressing their opinions.

 

Unlike what has been suggested in the past––both by students and faculty and occasionally even staff members––anonymity does not equal cowardice or malice. We believe it is safe to assume most people have found themselves having a controversial opinion at least once in their life, and if you have ever found yourself in that position you can see the consequences you could potentially face if you were to publish said opinions in the school newspaper with your name attached.

 

Following every anonymous article published by The Acorn this past year, we have seen clear examples on how anonymity has actually protected the authors of these pieces. People have gone as far as requesting that The Acorn bans anonymous articles, which we consider a serious infringement on freedom of speech. The Acorn, as a university’s undergraduate newspaper, serves a different population than national platforms. Drew may purport free speech on campus, but it is more likely for undergraduate students to face repercussions from the institution and their student colleagues than someone publishing an op-ed on a national newspaper.

 

 GRAPHIC COURTESY OF GOOGLE CHROME

 

Furthermore, learn how to take criticism. The world is full of diverse people with different opinions, and learning to make peace with the fact that people will disagree with you early in college will help when graduating and moving on to the “real world.” Instead of attacking and harrassing someone you think could have written an anonymous piece, maybe reflect on the actual arguments presented. Some of them may hold validity. We do not publish opinions pieces that specifically target specific people, but instead critique issues on campus. If the shoe fits, then there might be some areas of improvement to consider.

 

In fact, positive change has come on campus due to some of the anonymous opinions pieces we have published. Both of us are Baldwin scholars and we have seen reforms to the program following the article last semester. And this semester, President Baenninger personally responded to an anonymous piece about Title IX. Without the protection of anonymity, important issues at Drew might never see the light.

 

The Acorn is a resource for every student on campus. It is a space made by students for students. You can submit an anonymous piece through our website, with the option to not even identify yourself to editors. This by no means makes The Acorn a place for inflammatory speech or character assassination, but instead makes it a safe place for people to open dialogue towards change.

 

The Lead Editorial was written by The Acorn's co-Editors in Chief, Kassel Franco Garibay and Anna Gombert.

 

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March 13, 2020

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