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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Your Opinion Desk

Ask almost any UC Davis student what they think of the quarter system and they’ll tell you, for better or worse, that it’s fast. This is particularly true at the beginning of the year when classes just seem to rear up behind you. It can be difficult to think beyond a few days. But chances are you’re thinking nevertheless — about politics, your job, the economy or maybe just where to get a good burger.

This is where the Opinion Desk comes in.

We provide a forum for campus dialogue in which your original thoughts are formalized into writing, edited and sent out to a wide audience. Presenting the great diversity of beliefs across UC Davis is this desk’s primary objective. But we can only do that with the participation of students, faculty and the community at large.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that, as a college newspaper, the opinions published by this desk can err towards the progressive side. But might doesn’t make right. We are always looking for clear, informed writing — no matter what the author’s specific inclinations may be. It’s important that readers of the Aggie’s opinion section can expect a wide range of viewpoints.

And this year, your opinion is more important than ever.

We are in the early stages of a presidential election. For the next fourteen months, attention will be given to issues that might not have otherwise been a priority. This fundamental characteristic of federal elections in America is demonstrated by Donald Trump’s rhetoric on illegal immigration — an issue that has been increasingly covered by the media.

But immigration won’t be the only topic that gets an increased share of attention.

Issues that directly affect UC Davis students will be analyzed. Questions about funding higher education, interest rates on student loans and the implementation of President Obama’s free community college plan are already in a position to take the spotlight.

Colleges have a unique ability to shape national discourse. Take Emma Sulkowicz, a graduate of Columbia University who gained notoriety for carrying her mattress everywhere around campus to protest the university’s handling of her rape case. That story was featured prominently in news outlets across the nation.

Divestment is another issue which has been strongly associated with campus movements. At UC Davis, Student Resolution 17 (SR17), which called for the University of California to divest its holdings in companies associated with the the Israeli occupation of Palestine, was passed after a similar resolution, SR9, was deemed unconstitutional.

The debate that intervened during those proceedings was characterized by protests, walk-outs and sit- ins. Multiple instances of anti-semitic vandalism, that may or may not have been a result of the controversy, added to tension on campus.

The divestment movement at UC Davis shows us that we need to remain respectful when our opinions differ. SR9 was ruled unconstitutional because ASUCD’s judicial branch found that the resolution did not explicitly address its potential effect on student welfare. When The California Aggie ran an op-ed criticizing pro-divestment ASUCD senator Azka Fayyaz, a sit-in was held by some of her supporters in the newspaper’s offices.  

Often, and as were the cases of SR9 and the Aggie’s op-ed, the trouble will be found in the language.

For that reason, the Opinion Desk will continue to take great measures to ensure that no group is needlessly offended because of how something is written. Still, opinions are naturally divisive, and there is great value in having one’s particular viewpoint challenged. This desk intends to publish material that does as much.

To first-year or transfer students who may be unfamiliar with the quarter system, I encourage you to be a part of this student dialogue. Because this system is so intense, make your participation part of a routine from the get-go. To returning students, there is still time left.

To submit a guest opinion, email opinion@theaggie.org. You can pitch an idea, send your take on something happening on campus or draw a cartoon that you think sums up your point of view. The Opinion Desk welcomes all submissions.  

Or you can involve yourself in one of the easiest ways possible: by reading The California Aggie.

We love it when you read us.

Eli Flesch is the Opinion Editor for The California Aggie. Reach him at ekflesch@ucdavis.edu.

Graphic designed by Hee-Ah Yoo.

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