Letter from the Editor: March 11, 2020
Dear readers and writers of The Gate,
On March 2, the Institute of Politics posted a photo of a student stating her reason for voting, which quickly became the subject of a heated discussion on campus. In response to this post, a concerned writer and member of the Editorial Board wrote a response op-ed, entitled “Abstracting the Coronavirus: A Criticism of the IOP.” The piece was edited quickly in order to be published while the issue was still relevant and as a result, was not put under the same amount of editorial scrutiny as are all other pieces written for The Gate.
Following the publication of the piece, a frustrated senior writer met with us. He felt that The Gate's standard of rigorous editorial process was not upheld for this piece, and he noted personal attacks of the student in the article. He stated his intentions to leave the organization due to this oversight. Following the meeting, we looked at the version that had been published online and realized that it was not the version we had approved for publication. Important edits had been omitted, and new phrases and sentences were added without our approval. Section editors, of which this writer was one, are responsible for publishing pieces online, and as a result, the editors-in-chief did not see the final version that went online.
Unlike many of our other articles, for which edits are often stylistic and up to the writer to accept or reject, this piece ran a very thin line between being a broader critique of discourse on coronavirus and being a personal rebuke of the student for her political opinions. As a result, our edits were crucial to guaranteeing that the piece remained the former, and that it reflected the mission and values of The Gate. We never had the intention of publishing a critique of another student’s actions or beliefs, but because some key edits were rejected and new, unedited material had been added, it ended up being much more personal than we had intended.
After discussing for a few days the proper course of action, we decided to update the online version of the article to reflect the edits that we had originally approved. A link to the version that was first published was made accessible through a disclaimer at the top of the page for the sake of transparency. We notified the writer immediately upon making these changes and included an explanation of our decision. Ultimately, the writer did not agree with our rationale, and he resigned from his position with The Gate. He also asked us to take his piece and its promotional posts down, a request that we respected.
Our intentions with writing this letter are to affirm the mission and values of The Gate and to be transparent with our readership. The Gate’s mission statement includes the sentence: “The Gate is a nonpartisan publication and remains separate from any specific ideology so that individuals from across the broad political spectrum can share analysis and debate opinions.” Given that the published version of the piece disparaged a particular student for her views, it had the unintended consequence of making writers with similar political beliefs feel unwelcome voicing their opinions on The Gate’s platform. As a result of this consequence specifically, we felt that the piece ran counter to our mission of being a non-partisan publication. We want to reaffirm our respect for viewpoints from both sides of the political spectrum, provided that they do not personally disparage other student(s), as well as our continued efforts to edit all articles with a uniform amount of diligence.
The Gate prides itself on its editorial rigor and its ability to facilitate informed political discussion on campus and beyond. All editors are responsible for not only improving the writing itself, but also for ensuring that all pieces advance the mission of The Gate.
We encourage anyone to reach out to us with further comments, questions, or concerns.
Mariana, Noa, and Ashton
Editors-in-Chief and Managing Editor
Noa Levin is a third-year Political Science major and Human Rights minor from New York. On campus, Noa works as a research assistant for Professor Paul Staniland and as Communications Director of the Maroon Project on Security and Threats (MPOST). She has previously served as a Policy Research Lead for Neal Salés-Griffin’s campaign for Mayor of Chicago, and this past summer, she interned at the U.S. Department of State. In her free time, Noa enjoys watching Seinfeld and bullet journaling.
Mariana Paez is a third year Economics and Political Science double major. She first became involved with The Gate winter quarter her first year, and since then has served as the U.S. section editor and now as a co-EIC. In addition to The Gate, she is a researcher for the Paul Douglas Institute, a student-run public policy think tank on campus. This past summer, she worked as a Communications Intern for the Becker Friedman Institute. In her free time, she enjoys reading books, running, exploring the city with friends, and spending time in cafes.