The Texan needs diverse political perspectives

Megan Tran, Editor-in-Chief

Next semester will be my last one at The Daily Texan. I first joined as an opinion columnist my freshman year, and I’ve learned so much over the last six semesters. I love this paper, and I’m so proud of all the work we’ve done. But there are still ways we can improve.

 The Texan’s opinion department is a place for civil discourse. It’s a place for people with unique experiences and perspectives to share their ideas and advocate for on-campus change. During my time as editor-in-chief, I’ve realized the importance of ensuring the department has writers and editors who disagree and challenge each other to think differently.

I’ll be the first to admit that we haven’t always done a good job of this. In recent years, I feel as though we’ve become an echo chamber. Next spring, in my final semester as editor-in-chief, I’ll be looking to hire opinion staffers with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and political beliefs.   

Diversity of thought is a critical aspect of a good newspaper, and we cannot shy away from debate. There’s a difference between harmful, illogical arguments and ones we disagree with. This isn’t to say that the Texan’s opinion department will be a place to say and share whatever you want. There are sentiments that do not deserve a public platform, and hate speech and misinformation have no place here.

However, when our coverage only echoes one ideology or appeals to one political group, we fail to reach broader audiences. We close ourselves off from healthy discourse and are never challenged to think differently or justify our own beliefs. College is a time to learn and grow, to become exposed to new and thought-provoking ideas. Freedom of expression must extend both ways.

In my time at the Texan, I’ve only met one openly conservative columnist. UT’s student body, like that of most college campuses, leans liberal. However, we do ourselves a disservice by refusing to give a platform to right-leaning voices. It’s counterproductive and unrealistic to ignore the existence of unpopular opinions in the hopes that they will disappear. Many times, without popular criticism and debate, it has the opposite effect and can even lead to extremism. 

Freedom of speech and expression are understandably contentious issues on college campuses, and UT is no different. It’s good to question whether certain ideas are harmful or belong at an academic institution. In addition, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from criticism. If you disagree with something we publish, we welcome the criticism and invite you to submit an op-ed opposing the opinions expressed in that story.

As society becomes increasingly polarized, it’s important to be open-minded and engage with ideas that differ from your own. Civil discourse and debate are the cornerstone of the Texan’s opinion department.

Many of my predecessors, whether intentionally or not, did not hire conservative or right-leaning columnists. I disagree with these choices. Next semester, I will be looking for columnists who are good writers, with unique experiences and interesting ideas. I invite you to apply and join me in the opinion department, regardless of your political affiliation. 

Tran is a Plan II, English and sociology junior from Houston, Texas. She is the editor-in-chief.