‘Politics’ with a purpose

by Katie Collier

Reading over last week’s editorial disparaging the “Democratic bias” of the Politics page, I was initially offended by Marcus Koontz’s objections to the Oct. 5 spread on how those in the Whitman community are involved in the November elections. Upon deeper reflection, however, I began to feel that his concerns with the lack of conservative voice granted me the opportunity to clarify the valuable purpose of the Politics page. I also want to encourage Koontz and others to add their diverse voices to it through their active political involvement.

The “Politics” page was inspired by a need for a rhetorical space for activists on campus and in this community. Contrary to the popular gripes about the apathy of Whitman students, I have observed an impressive amount of activism in my time here, ranging from the renewable energy campaign, to a Martin Luther King, Jr. march, to efforts to increase awareness of events in Sudan.

The misconceptions that Whitman students are all talk and no action, then, must come from a lack of advertising and dialogue about such activism. In this light, the Politics page is not designed to promote a particular partisan politics but rather to encourage discourse about activism, spread news about opportunities to be involved and allow passionate students to editorialize their opinions on local and international political issues.

The issue of the Pioneer that Koontz took offense to showcased three members of the Whitman community who have invested exceptional amounts of energy in the November elections this year. These are a faculty member running for a local office, a father of three Whitman students running for Congress and a current student who is actually managing the campaign of a potential state representative.

While it happens that two of these individuals are affiliated with the Democratic Party, the point was not to promote that Part, but to celebrate the political involvement and passion in our community. This goal was clearly presented in an introduction at the top of the page. The limited ideological information presented in these articles was to clarify each individual’s motivation for involvement.

I would have loved to balance this page with articles about Whitman community members who were Republican candidates for national offices or managing Libertarian campaigns, but I have not been made aware of such involvement. The lack of Republican (and Libertarian) presence in the Oct. 5 issue might be a reflection of campus activists—or non-activists—rather than a reflection of my own biases.

That said, I know that students and faculty of non-Democrat preferences exist on this campus. I invite them to take issue with this disparity of representation by becoming more visibly involved in local or national politics and by taking advantage of the rhetorical space the Politics page provides for everyone.

This apparent “bias” should not be a consistent problem, as most articles on this page highlight nonpartisan activism and political issues. Perhaps readers will notice the equal space given to Democrat and Republican platforms in this week’s issue—a spread with the goal of educating young voters rather than encouraging and celebrating involvement in an election year that is crucial to Democrats and Republicans alike.

In conclusion, I commend Mr. Koontz for feeling impassioned enough about his own political ideology to take issue with the liberal tendencies of this campus. I hope that he has served to invigorate campus activism of all kinds and to encourage Republicans, Libertarians, Greens and anyone else to become active voices on this page. The Politics page is a space for everyone.

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