Post Classifieds

A column on columns

By Taylor Fulkerson
On October 28, 2012

Writing has majestically come into my life this semester
and swept me off my feet. By that I mean to say, everything I
do involves writing. For some, this would be a strange and peculiar form of torture. For others, it would be an earthly paradise. How I feel about it doesn't matter too much - though I do enjoy it - because I still have to write the papers, columns and reflections and be present mentally and physically at
the Writing Center during certain hours of the week.
The overabundance of the written word has forced me to put
in perspective what writing for a public forum means. In other words, why do we publish our writings for all to see? Why
does this column matter? We certainly don't write columns
to get a collective letter grade from the student body. And considering the often-serious subject material for columns, we
aren't doing it for fun. This isn't for my health, y'all. Instead we write columns to persuade, commend, pose questions and make proposals. We write to let the public know why they ought to be outraged, remind them of something we purportedly stand for as an institution or to kick around an idea
with both the student body and the powers that be.
We write with direction on the Op-Ed pages. However, I'm
still coming to realize what weight words can carry,
what they can and can't do. In a public forum, words can often do more harm than good. It's easy to offend people. It's easy to misinterpret facts. It's easy to cross the thin line between criticism and libel. I think we see plenty of writing that touches that line as is. We certainly don't need to slam Student
Government Association for unsubstantiated reasons. I don't mean that we shouldn't call SGA or Student Activities Council out for corruption or bad governing practices; we just need to have sufficient facts to do so. As easy as it is to do wrong in a column, it's equally difficult to do good and make an impact. Most proposals and ideas toward the administration
are naïve at best. I can't remember any single idea that the administration has implemented based off the Newswire or any policy that teachers have taken for evaluating their students. Furthermore, to add insult to injury, the same naïveté is sometimes present in the fundamental assumptions of columns. Don't send something to press if it could be contradicted on national television the day before the paper is printed.
So I suppose the question I have about the efficacy and purpose of columns could equally be placed on my piece right now: Taylor, why are you lecturing us on all this stuff? And why does your hair matter at all? I see so many talented students and peers around me, and all of them have opinions.
They all have ideas on how the world ought to work politically, socially, at Xavier and outside the "bubble" too. They have training in fields like economics and sociology, theology and English. So why is it that we only see a small handful of people writing criticism in this public forum and making propositions about how this university could be run better? Why are there so few letters towards the Newswire and the editors
about your opinions? I would love to see more column
writers with clever ideas, or even just more letters to the editor. I know not everyone reads the Newswire, and I know that it takes time to write the piece, redact, try again, scrap the
whole project and then come out with a piece that isn't perfect because deadlines creep up worse than homework. I'm
also painfully aware that the administration won't always listen to us here or that our impact here isn't what we'd like. But that doesn't matter. I know you all have the ideas. And I sincerely want to hear them as a student who prefers an open
discussion to a life of quiet desperation and frustration.
I just don't want to see them have the same success as NASA's rockets from the late '50s (take off, crash and burn).
I want to hear your ideas, but I want to see stuff that can actually fly and that the powers that be won't shoot down on sight. Give us your ideas; just don't be the village idiot when you do so.  

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