Clever critique or useless banter?

MARC ALLAN | mallan@butler.edu | Public Editor

From student housing and smoking pot to Greek life and internships, Collegian columnists have expressed opinions about a broad range of subjects this semester.

On occasion, they have been critical of Butler policies.

Opinion editor Julian Wyllie, a junior studying economics in the College of Business, told me that he and the other student columnists love Butler.

But…?

“I try not to look at it as we are talking bad about Butler,” he said. “I think we’re helping. I think we are doing a service for the community and helping them realize what should be improved.”

I think he is right.

Opinion writers for The Collegian have a difficult job. If they see something they think should be better, it is their role to point it out. Yet they care about Butler, so they have to balance their criticism of a particular policy with their love for the institution.

It is similar to any relationship that matters. You may love someone (or something), but you do not necessarily love everything about him/her/it.

It is all in how you express your opinion.

Wyllie said he has seen some of his columns result in positive change. A column he wrote last year—in which he said that the Student Government Association needed to do more to reach out to students—resulted in a better effort.

“This year, SGA events have drawn more people, and their social media campaign has been completely different,” he said. “They tweet more frequently, they are on Facebook—all the things that connect with people our age—the students—is what they’re doing.”

Collegian readers may have noticed that under Wyllie’s stewardship, the opinion pages have fewer staff editorials this year.

“My opinion is that staff editorials should be reserved for very big issues or something that really deserves a paper’s stance,” he said. “So doing one every week, to me, is sort of like diluting the effect of the staff editorial. We have only done two this year, and the last one was about midterm grades and stress. Staff editorials stand out a lot more if you don’t do as many. It makes people realize this is something they really care about.”

Wyllie made another significant change: When there is a staff editorial, he writes it. In the past, the duty of writing the staff editorial fell to whomever wanted it.

In the past, too, the staff voted on the opinion, and that vote was part of the editorial. Not anymore.

“I don’t find that to be relevant,” he said. “It’s still an opinion. People can disagree with it. But the editorial is the stance of the paper.”

Overall, Wyllie said, “We write for the people here. We want them to care about these issues.”

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