Last week, the rock in Kresge Courtyard was painted with “BLUE LIVES MATTER,” “Double Standard” and “BLM=RACIST,” in response to being painted with “BLM” days before. This event consumed Bethel University’s campus with protests, demonstrations and conversations about how Bethel deals with race and reconciliation. In order to dedicate reporters and resources to cover these events, we delayed publication of our regular newspaper and created this special edition of the Clarion.
Our purpose as staff at the Clarion is to be truth-seekers and informers for all of Bethel community. Our job as reporters is to find the full truth, to report on the full truth. To accomplish this, our staff set out to hear different perspectives on the painting of the rock and the protests that followed.
As we sought to find the truth about how our campus felt about the rock, we found readiness to speak and be heard from those who supported the protests and demonstrations. Many people of all genders, races and ages submitted opinion pieces in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on campus – so many we couldn’t afford the pages to publish them all in our print copy.
But we also found something else. We found fear and hesitation among those who have a problem with the Black Lives Matter movement. We found people who didn’t want to go on record for stories because they were afraid of being labelled a racist and hated. We heard hesitation to publish even a paragraph of what they thought for fear of wording something wrong or accidentally saying something offensive. We heard students defend their unwillingness to share their beliefs because of their leadership positions on campus. We’ve heard these opinions and voices, yet, many people refuse to go on the record.
We made a tough decision to eliminate the opinion section from this issue because it didn’t depict the large spectrum of opinions we encountered in our reporting. We received passionate, well-thought out pieces that we’re postponing until we can do more reporting, and the writers can further process the events. The opinion pieces we received echoed one another and did not depict the disagreement and conflict we have continually encountered in our reporting. So we left the opinion section out of this issue.
As you’re reading through this issue, please know this: We as the Clarion staff struggled with each and every word published. We read and re-read the pages of this newspaper. We painstakingly cut and added words and paragraphs in order to create a full picture of what was a historic week on our campus, attempting to create a paper that gives our audience the chance to examine the facts of the situation and understand the conflicts and emotions.
As you read this issue of the Clarion, we pray that you resist the urge to dismiss opinions that are different from your own. Work towards understanding others in our community. Work towards grace in learning about people different from yourself.