Addressing the Criticisms and a Happy Summer from The Berea Torch!

By The Berea Torch

As everyone is eagerly packing up and getting prepared to move out for the long-awaited break, The Berea Torch wanted to wish everyone a happy (and hopefully COVID-free) summer break! During this time, we will not be posting any articles and will be working on updating the aesthetics and revamping the website to make it more accessible. Furthermore, next semester, we will be changing our publishing schedule from everyday to 2-3 times a week to keep up with our busy, Berea schedules and have more time to research and interview for articles.

Now, onto some of the criticisms that we have received.

With the release of the David Porter and the Title IX survey article, there was a lot of concerns presented on the Facebook groups where we share our articles. A few of those concerns were not researching enough, not presenting the questions that raised the most concerns originally in the article, and being biased because of the professor quotes we included.

To address the concern of not researching enough, we are perplexed. We spent weeks reading articles from third party sources about the situation with Dave Porter and Berea College, speaking with professors who were willing to talk to us, interviewing Dave Porter personally, and reviewing an article from The Pinnacle which also had reported on it back in 2018.

This is a concern that has came up a few times in regards to some of our articles. Even with the Sodexo series, we spent weeks getting interviews with dining staff and ex-Sodexo workers and we had seen comments saying that we had not researched or interviewed enough, but we cannot make people talk to us. We spend great efforts on trying to find information on the issues presented to us about the college and in many cases, there are no third party information to be found online. Our solution to this is publishing less next semester so we can allocate more time to researching and we encourage people to reach out to us to correct us. It has happened a few times this semester and we appreciate it greatly because there is only three of us working on The Berea Torch.

Two of the other concerns from the Dave Porter article was not including specific Title IX questions from the survey and being biased because of the professor quotes presented. Before we had released the article, we had been advised to not include Title IX case questions from the survey in the article we wrote because it could be triggering to any of the people involved in those cases and that is why we opted to linking the survey so that people could look at it for themselves. Furthermore, those three professors were the only professors who willingly gave us their consent to publish their opinions on the case, with anonymity. We talked to multiple professors, and the majority flat-out told us that they did not want their opinion published at all or they had not been here when the event had occurred (there are a lot of newer professors that are currenting “visiting” or hired less than four years ago). What we have realized though through these two criticisms is that we should explicitly state that in the future why we chose to write something the way we did and to state the point of the article more straightforwardly. We will be working on that for the next semester.

Another criticism to note outside of the Dave Porter article is that we are biased. We have seen that this frequently occurs on our editorial articles and we wanted to clarify that an editorial is an opinion piece and therefore, it will be biased. For example, the article on CAB was an anonymous submission from a student which we independently investigated (at the submitter’s request) and edited before publishing. By publishing the article, we were not wholeheartedly agreeing with its contents, but instead, giving a voice to a concern that we felt that a sizable amount of students could relate to. We are not the only publication that does editorials though as The Pinnacle, The New York Times, the Kentucky Kernel, and others all have opinion-based articles! Furthermore, not all editorials are a reflective of what the writers of The Berea Torch believe as we like to publish the thoughts and opinions of Berea College students and in the future, we will clarify that an article is not representative of us as a whole.

Lastly, there was a question asked in the Bereans Gone Wild: Cult Edition! Facebook group. An anonymous poster asked, “What is it that you’re trying to achieve by creating the Berea Torch?” We want to bring attention to some events, students’ work, and people from Berea College and Berea as a town. We want to create a space that students can speak their minds. We want to bring attention information that college administration hides from us college students. We want to bring change to the college for the better for future students to come after us. We believe that a paper is a way to unify, spread information and that if enough of us are upset about something, then we can change it.

This paper is something that is new to us and we have a lot to learn, but with time and through trial and error, we hope to improve and grow the paper into a unifying movement for students at Berea College. This semester has been great and we look forward to evolving over the summer and coming back to write again for you all this next academic year. Have a great summer break!

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