A Note from the Editor: The Commentator: A Platform for Everyone
As stated on the third page of every issue we have printed this year, “The Commentator has served students and administrators as a communicative conduit” for 78 years. The paper is supposed to be a “reliable reflection of Yeshiva student life to the broader Jewish and American communities,” a publication staffed by those with a shared “passion for living the ideals of Torah U-Maddah, and commitment to journalistic excellence.” And yet, in spite of these “clear” guidelines, the recent spate of challenges to our university have caused me to rethink what The Commentator ought to represent.
I’m not here to put forth a treatise on the proper modus operandi for a student publication. Some of my fellow editors believe that by reporting on important YU related news--no matter how unsettling--and by challenging some of the decisions made by our administration--no matter how uncomfortable--they are serving the best interest of YU’s student body, and thus, fulfilling their obligations as student newspaper staff. Personally, I’m not sure how YU students, and their newspaper, should be responding to the numerous challenges facing this university. I don’t know enough of the intricacies or possess enough wisdom and experience to confidently arrive at any sort of definitive conclusion. What I do know, on the other hand, is how to respond to those students who challenge what and whom our paper does, or does not, represent, the students who claim that The Commentator has failed them by taking stances with which, or by providing a platform for those with whom, they partially or fundamentally disagree.
I’ll start by making an unequivocal and unapologetic claim: I do not agree with the main message of every article that has been published in The Commentator this year. I don’t even agree with the main message of some of the articles I signed off on, or personally helped orchestrate. But I don’t regret publishing positions that I disagree with, because, when push comes to shove, I am glad that our school has a publication open to different voices from within, or of relevance to, its student body.
At the risk of sounding cliche, I firmly believe that college is a time that should be dedicated to expanding one’s horizons; a time when young adults, who, in a very real sense, will be future community leaders, are charged with the critical task of expanding their knowledge, sensitivities and curiosities, in order to better understand, better lead, and better live their lives. As Ben Zoma says in the mishnaic tractate Avot, “Who is wise? He who learns from all people.” Even if you don’t agree with a particular message in its entirety, or a specific position in its tone, there are always elements of wisdom, no matter how slight, that can be gleaned from a given viewpoint. By remaining open to different perspectives, The Commentator is playing its small role in potentiating the growth that a university education ought to entail.
Within its stated goal of being a “communicative conduit” for the population of YU, it should be clear that The Commentator does not belong to any one student, contributing writer, staff writer or editor; it belongs to all of them. Any stances taken by an article published in this paper represent the voice of one student, among thousands, in this fantastically underrated bastion of diversity we call our home. If you feel that The Commentator is not adequately representing your voice, do something about it. Write a letter to the editor, speak to a staff member, submit an article for publication; don’t give up on your school paper because you disagree with some of the articles being published. Be proactive and add your input to The Commentator, because as a YU student, supporter, or employee, it’s your platform too.