We are issuing an apology for publishing a guest column titled “OPINION: We need to change the stigma around sexual assault” on Oct. 20, 2022. This column was submitted by a guest columnist who is a Western student but is not affiliated with The Front or the journalism department. While the piece was tagged as “opinion” on our website, we initially failed to label it as a guest opinion piece in the headline. We take responsibility for publishing it, and we did so understanding that the column presented complex and even offensive ideas.
We believe universities must be places where there is a free exchange of sometimes difficult ideas, which is also true of journalism. However, as a student publication it is also our responsibility to uphold journalistic ethics. A key principle of the Society of Professional Journalists is minimizing harm. Upon further consideration, we believe the harm caused by the guest column warrants its removal from The Front’s home page and social media.
It is never our goal to hurt or offend members of our community. To that end, we strongly encourage members of the community who would like to respond to this column to send The Front a letter to the editor of up to 500 words. We will publish perspectives, as long as they aren’t libelous or hate speech. You can send your letter to email@example.com.
We understand that members of our community might prefer that we take down this piece and erase the record that it ever existed.
We, as a rule, do not erase our work – as a matter of growth, accountability to our community, and so that the historic record reflects how people in the community thought about critical issues over time. However, we acknowledge this column caused an immense amount of harm. Therefore, we are archiving the guest column so we can keep the conversation open and take accountability for the harm we caused. If you would like to access the archived column, it can still be searched for on our website.
We hope that members of our community will always speak to us when they have concerns, questions or requests about our coverage. We may not always be able to satisfy our community, but we can promise to always be transparent about how decisions are made at The Front. Learning from this experience, we are currently assessing guidelines and policies for guest pieces.
Olivia Palmer, Editor in Chief
Katie McNabb, Managing Editor
The Front Editorial Staff