On Monday at 6 p.m., Binghamton University students assembled to protest outside of the Pipe Dream office. They were protesting a controversial opinion column that raises questions about racial issues. This was the first time in recent memory that Pipe Dream has been protested in this fashion, and while the event was uncomfortable for all of us, it was also a wake up call.
The protestors raised accusations that went further than our printing of this column. They brought to surface Pipe Dream’s own lack of diversity. While we do have varied perspectives, with a wide range of races, religions and cultures among us, there are perspectives that we lack. Though it’s something that we’ve noticed, until now, our cultural makeup was not something that we deeply internalized enough.
The column that gave rise to the protest does not reflect the collective opinion of our staff, but we question whether or not we would have published this piece if we had a more diverse staff. We think of ourselves as the voice of the student body, and after Monday’s experience, we realize that to be that voice, we need a staff that fully represents the student body.
Weekend Warriors is a rite of passage for many BU students, an institution of sorts in which we hope to appear. But right now, the vast majority of students who are featured are white. We want to break out of only photographing State Street, but to be honest, we aren’t sure where to go. This reflects a larger issue of cultural compartmentalization that our school faces, and as a student newspaper, it’s our duty to work to change that.
Fulfilling the ideal of a more diversified staff won’t happen overnight. This is a two-way street. We have open GIMs every semester, which we advertise all over campus and in B-line, but every semester, disproportionately few students of color apply. We know that this is a feedback loop, where diverse students are less compelled to join a staff that lacks sufficient diversity. We are looking forward to working with you on fixing this. We know we are not the first Pipe Dream staff without fair diversity, but we will be the one that changes it.
We identify this as a turning point in Pipe Dream’s history. Today at 6 p.m., we will begin that process. We are meeting with representatives from some of the cultural, ethnic and racial groups present at the protest. Together, we will outline steps toward a more culturally inclusive staff and newspaper.
We often bring up terms like “institutional racism” in the abstract without asking the tough, self-critical questions. A newspaper’s job is to hold up the mirror to its readers. When we turn the mirror on ourselves, we see that we have ways to go. We are looking forward to working with our campus to get there and to realizing a different Pipe Dream.