Wesleyan’s student newspaper, the Argus, published an op-ed headlined “Why Black Lives Matter Isn’t What You Think” on September 14. The article questions the motives of Black Lives Matter and goes so far as to suggest the movement was to blame for the deaths of police officers. The article was ill-conceived, poorly-written and, by the paper’s own admission, insufficiently fact-checked. After the campus weighed in with deserved criticism, the paper scrambled to atone. In an unprecedented front-page editorial, the Argus apologized profusely, even suggesting they were at fault for not accompanying the controversial op-ed with an opposing viewpoint directly next to it.

Despite the Argus’s over-the-top backpedaling, activists in the Wesleyan community are not satisfied. This week, a petition demanding that Wesleyan’s student government defund the paper until a list of other conditions are met gained over 170 signatures. In exchange for continued funding, the petition calls for specific measures such as diversity training for the publication’s staff each semester and an open space on the paper’s front page for marginalized voices. It also calls for vague measures such as “active recruitment and advertisement.”

It is apparent that the petition’s signatories believe that the Argus has not sufficiently addressed issues regarding the voices of students of color. A few of the petition’s specific demands, such as staff diversity training, are both worthwhile and attainable. Nonetheless, attempting to withhold the student newspaper’s funding is misguided. Though their frustration with the paper extends beyond this one column, in trying to censor an opposing idea, these signatories contradict their own goal of promoting diversity of opinion.

We do not pretend to know everything about the controversy taking place on another campus. But we find several elements of the situation concerning journalistically. For instance, the Argus’ editorial implies that opinion columns should be coupled with counter arguments, but this is neither a standard journalistic practice nor a wise one. All newspapers strive to publish opinion articles with a range of perspectives, but not necessarily side by side.

In terms of the petition’s demands, the mandated creation of a space on the front page of the newspaper reserved for the perspectives of minority students, however well-intentioned, would set a disturbing precedent: it would make continued funding for the paper contingent on the publication of certain content. Such a policy would infringe upon editorial independence, which is vital to the integrity of any publication.

While it is not specifically mentioned in the petition, the op-ed appears to have been the catalyst for the document’s creation. We find it further troubling that members of the Wesleyan student body are conflating the opinions of an op-ed contributor with those of the paper at large. Publishing an article is not the same as endorsing its assertions, and we worry about the implications of missing this distinction moving forward. A newspaper that serves a small community like Wesleyan or Bowdoin should strive to represent the perspectives of its diverse constituents, and that includes publishing unpopular opinions.

This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of John Branch, Sam Chase, Matthew Gutschenritter, Emma Peters and Nicole Wetsman.