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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Board responds to criticism of editorial

Students and members of the campus community held a sit-in at The Aggie newsroom Thursday, Feb. 19. The sit-in, which lasted from 2:30-8:00 p.m. and was attended by about 15 people, was in opposition to an Aggie editorial published Feb. 10.

The group indicated to us that they felt that criticising the statements made by the senator, who herself adheres to an Islamic dress code and wears the hijab, triggered an unwitting association with other students who wear hijab. The Aggie Editorial Board certainly did not consider this in the formulation of the editorial and regret that we made students feel demoralized or in any way targeted, as a result. The board was focused only on the expectations and responsibilities of all senators in general, regardless of faith, culture or appearance; this was clarified Thursday.

The editorial was also criticized for providing the senator’s office hours, which was feared to expose her to confrontations or jeopardize her safety. There was no intention to put the senator in any harm, nor did we mean to discount the magnitude of the threats that she received. Providing this information was only to remind students that our representatives are accessible and always willing to listen to those who wish to voice concerns respectfully.

The Aggie exists to serve the UC Davis community and to highlight the interests and opinions of all groups. We believe that when senators run for office they are aware and embrace that in carrying out their duties as an elected official, they must take into consideration the various groups on campus, their respective concerns, sensitivities and sometimes divergent objectives.  Elected representatives are also aware and accept that they may occasionally face public scrutiny from the students they serve. The Aggie, as a media outlet, not only has the right but also an obligation to hold officials, both at the professional and student levels, accountable for their statements and actions while in office.

The Editorial Board is comprised of volunteer students who themselves represent a diverse range of cultural and religious backgrounds and personal interests. In discussing this and any editorial, members of the group are given the opportunity to voice their personal views and are also challenged to confront and reflect on conflicting positions held by others within the group. The Board then attempts to present an editorial that achieves a common ground between its members.

The Board recognizes how the events of the past few weeks have polarized the campus, and that individuals have been deeply affected, others by the residual effects of conflict and the attempts to address it. We were disheartened to hear that some of our readers felt that the editorial contributed to this climate, and regret that its intent was misconstrued. We, in no way, intend to diminish the real concerns over Islamophobia and the strong sentiments many students share regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Aggie makes a conscious effort to maintain inclusivity and cover events and issues that concern all groups on campus. We have reported on Muslim student functions, causes and contributions. The Editorial Board values the opinions of Muslim groups at UC Davis, as they serve an integral role in the campus community. We sincerely hope that, despite the divisive geo-political and/or religious issues that exist outside our campus borders, UC Davis students, student leaders and organizations can continue the peaceful and respectful  dialogue necessary for greater understanding, tolerance and inclusion, even in disagreement.

The Aggie invites criticism and opposing views and encourages its readers to submit Letters to the Editor or guest opinions to editor@theaggie.org or opinion@theaggie.org.

Graphic by Jennifer Wu

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