I am writing to voice my concern over a recent trend I have seen in The Eagle and Chadron State’s student culture in general. Recently, it seems, there has been a rising tendency among readers to voice hostility and outrage over the contents of these pages, culminating in the defacement of the newspapers left in the Student Center. I believe that controversy, for lack of a better word, is good, and I completely support the efforts of the editorial staff to enliven the discourse of the campus by including opinion and humor pieces that are controversial.
What disturbs me, though, is that no one has yet stepped to the defense of the editorial staff. While I was an undergraduate at Chadron, I had the opportunity to work with many of the writers and editors of The Eagle, both in classes and as a sometime reviewer, opinion writer, and copy editor for the newspaper. My opinions were not always popular, and they were mostly intended not to be. Some of my opinions have changed since I worked on The Eagle, but my belief in the intelligence, good consciousness, and flat-out talent of the editorial staff has not. While I worked for The Eagle, the editorial staff then active often encouraged me to “tone down” my writing, but always ultimately respected my eventual choices as a writer.
When I read, therefore, Mr. Robertson’s opinions on Mr. Marquez and Mr. Oleksy, I was shocked at his evidently conspiratorial view of the inner workings of The Eagle. I share his bewilderment at Mr. Oleksy’s needing to remind people that columns in the Opinion section are not “hard news,” though for a different reason: I have often had to discuss with my freshmen students that one ought to contextualize what one reads, but naively assumed it was confined to people who hadn’t been taught such things. When I read the New York Times, I don’t confuse the Business section with the comics.
I do not generally agree with Mr. Marquez’s writing, just as I often did not agree with Mr. Schrage’s. I know both of these people personally, which may bias my judgment a bit when I say that, disagreement with their occasional opinion aside, I think they are bright, motivated and intelligent young men. Mr. Oleksy, whom I have had the privilege of knowing for several years, is similarly a well-informed, intelligent, and singularly capable editor.
News may be slow sometimes on Chadron’s campus, but it has been my first-hand experience that when something newsworthy happens, these fine people take the time—generally, unpaid and on top of classes—to cover it thoroughly and thoughtfully. That they do not always write on subjects that others consider worthy of their potential is perhaps all to the good: genuine freedom of speech, I suspect, entails a freedom of subjects.
While I disagree with Mr. Robertson on several points, I at least have to thank him for taking the time to thoughtfully engage the subject. The same cannot be said for the recent act of vandalism. If it was intended as a prank, it went too far; if it was a commentary, I would like to know the credentials of the people issuing such blanket statements. That would, unfortunately, involve knowing their identity, which would in turn require them to have the courage such a conviction ought to provide. Given the cowardice of the act, such a revelation seems unlikely.
—Daniel J. Schweitzer,
alumnus of Vermillion, S.D.