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Racially charged attacks on the UMass campus

by on October 17, 2014

Over the long weekend, there were multiple incidents of hateful speech carved into the dorm room doors of various people in the Southwest residential area. Among the victims of the hateful vandalism was the SGA Secretary of Diversity and Policy Advocacy Coordinator for Student Bridges, Josh Odam. Odam wrote a column for the Daily Collegian today to bring the issues of diversity and race on campus to the forefront of university policy. In his column, Odam talks about ethno-stress, “mental and social pressures students of color face while in predominately white spaces,” and how, “being one of eight Black students in lectures halls of 300 students is a direct example.”

The piece continues, with Odam explaining that he returned back to his dorm from being at the protests in Ferguson to find a hateful engraving on his door. Now the ethical dilemma arises not out of the incident itself, although clearly whoever the perpetrator is has no morals or ethical code, but in the Daily Collegian’s posting the article with the image unedited. By posting the image as is, the Daily Collegian is publicizing the incident and making anyone on campus who was not already aware of this aware. Additionally, I have heard arguments that attention is exactly what the perpetrator wanted and the paper is just helping him accomplish that goal. Conversely, if the Daily Collegian were to censor the image, it may seem as though they are not taking the issue as seriously as it is. There is debate as to whether or not running that image was a good idea or not and that is why I am trying to stimulate discussion here.

What do y’all think? Was it a good idea to run the image as is or should it have been edited? Do you think that running the image unedited is a step towards resolving some of the issues of race and diversity or not? Weigh in on either side and share what you think one way or the other.

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2 Comments
  1. Being a woman of color, my opinion may or may not be the same as my peers, but I feel that in a situation like this, it is better to run with an unedited image. Here is my reasoning for it; when you edit or alter an image to hide the message, you’re kind of endorsing it in a very bizarre way. It can also be seen as very patronising to an audience (like saying “Oh I know that this is awful, but I don’t think your delicate tummies would be able to handle something of this nature, so I’m going to edit it so you don’t bother your little head”) Of course the message is hurtful and quite frankly, appalling in this day and age, but hiding the real image is sort of being an apathetic/passive bystander and also kind of “hiding” the real truth. I’m also an RA and this year our training heavily focused on being an active bystander and aiding in issues where we should not remain silent, and I find that putting the real picture as opposed to a doctored image stays in line with being an active bystander.

    As journalists, our job is to report on the truth, we can’t be held back by our emotions (very specifically in a situation like this) and try to “protect” our readers from offensive content. They have a right to know what exactly is going on on campus, because they’re going to find out one way or another and hiding an image like on a prominent campus newspaper like the Collegian will do more harm than good. If the public had easy access to the image, they may see an edited image on Collegian as something biased and may trust the publication even less as opposed to us being completely honest about the events revolving around this.

  2. I think that publishing the unedited image was the right thing to do. People deserve to know the severity of the crime, and then can respond accordingly. covering it up would dampen the impact of the story, and have the potential to confuse readers and limit the discussion on why it occurred in the first place and how it can be prevented in the future.

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