At the beginning of the semester, the Letters section looked like it did so many semesters past – one or two brief, concise letters, most likely not pertaining to content published in The Signal. Often these pieces were so brief, we could fit them on the Editorials page, eliminating a need for a separate Letters page.
Since the middle of the semester, however, this has changed. Students began to realize the purpose of a Letter to the Editor: to write about stuff in The Signal that pisses you off.
The most prevalent example has been the reaction to the “conservatization” of the Opinions Section. An anti-gay-marriage column by Todd Carter produced a student response so great the Letters section had to be expanded into a two-page spread just to accommodate student reaction to this one article. The Signal has not seen an outpouring like this since the change of the College’s clocktower logo two years ago in April 2003.
Another major debate that has been going on in the Letters section started with an article by columnist Matt Esposito on macroevolution. For about a month now, a professor of Biology and another student have been going back and forth with supporters of Esposito. These debates, however, are usually 1,500-word responses filled with scientific facts that sometimes are more well-written than some of the stories in the Opinions section. The editors at The Signal are honored that both students and faculty want to take the time to argue their message so professionally via our pages.
It seemed as though readers had heeded our advice. In the March 23 issue of The Signal (the issue with the overwhelming response to Todd Carter’s article), we put out a call for action – write for The Signal, because we are your student newspaper.
Through that editorial, we had actually intended to tell students to stop simply complaining about the content of The Signal as they did with the Carter column, and enact their own change by providing some alternative commentary for the Opinions section.
Little did we realize, however, that students were fulfilling the purpose of a Letters section, as well as the purpose of a campus newspaper, through their outpouring of Letters to the Editor. Why limit them to the Opinions section? The Letters section was their forum for their voices to be heard.
We are still trying to figure out the increased activity in the Letters section this semester. Is signal-online.net making it easier to submit letters? Did our March 23 editorial spark desire to write?
Maybe it is simply the fact that students are starting to care more. That’s all we at The Signal have essentially been asking for. And now it is our duty to provide them with a forum for their thoughts.