Letter From the Editor: Why we cover racial slur usage on campus

Jeremy Chisenhall headshot

Jeremy Chisenhall

It’s not always common for newspapers to respond directly to their audiences when it comes to criticism of coverage, but I wanted to do exactly that by addressing one of the biggest questions we got last week.

Our coverage of the video in which several members of Alpha Xi Delta used a racial slur prompted a lot of discussion on social media, and one of the most-asked questions was, “Why is this news?”

The emergence of a second video relating to this issue will likely prompt similar discussion. We’ve seen a similar incident with Chi Omega, the coverage of which you can find on the front page today.

The reason for its newsworthiness is fairly straightforward: the social acceptability of that word has been changing for decades, and in today’s climate it’s seen as unacceptable for white people to use the word. That opinion is generally held regardless of whether the word is being used in direct reference to someone or if it’s being sung in a song.

The fact that some of AXiD’s members felt comfortable with using the word so freely points to a divide in the viewpoints of people on campus. Many readers have shown their disapproval of the sorority members’ actions, showing the controversy of the problem and pointing to the need for coverage of the issue.

The fact that two SGA members are planning to protest over the issue also shows the necessity for our coverage.

The Herald will continue to cover these issues just as we covered the Chi O story that you see on the front page today. The discussion this issue has prompted continues to be a focal point for people across campus, in Greek life, in SGA and in other student organizations.

When it comes to issues like this, we have an opportunity to highlight the importance of the issue and drive further discussion.

Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Chisenhall can be reached at 270-745-5044 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @JSChisenhall.