Over the course of the fall 2013 semester, we have published numerous articles that our readers have considered controversial. As a student newspaper, our mission statement states that “Campus Times shall report and analyze events, provide an open forum for the expression of opinions and introduce students and the University community to the art of journalism.” We publish stories about what affects students, what students are talking about, and what students need to know. The Campus Times staff stands by what it publishes.
While many of the controversial views  contended by our opinions section writers are angering readers, they are also, more importantly, generating dialogue. Issues that would otherwise go undiscussed are now being put under a microscope by a variety of members of our community.
Last week, we published “Let the Good Times Flow.” It is lewd. It is an uncomfortable subject for many. Its criticism, however, requires context. Previous Sex and the CT articles have been equally uncomfortable. We have published stories explaining the merits of oral sex, threesomes, and bisexuality. Writers have encouraged readers to indulge in fetishes, to check out sex toy stores and (find a crazy sex and the CT from the Archives). None of these received the wild criticism from readers that last week’s article has. If the outrage is over the subject matter, then it is arbitrary outrage. The article’s tone, therefore, has to be what is so controversial.
We concede that the tone was harsher than those previous articles. Because we are a student-run publication, our writers are not experts on what they write, particularly when it comes to a sex column. In this way, the purpose of a college newspaper sex column is to elicit a reaction and thus promote discussion about topics that many college students deal with. For example, in 2011, Penn State’s newspaper, The Daily Collegian, published an article titled, “Let’s Talk Sex, Hugs and Handjobs.“ This story served as the introduction for the female staff writer of the first sex column in the University’s newspaper. It included her admission of many personal sexual details and claims that she is not alone in her opinions. The article went viral, receiving hundreds of comments on the newspaper’s website. In a similar fashion, Yang’s article has been a lightning rod for CT publicity.
All of the controversy the newspaper has stirred up shows the impact that the CT has at UR. The Opinions section is an open forum and we treat it as such. It does not represent the views of the newspaper. As the controversial opinion pieces and the subsequent letters to the editor indicate, the issues that concern students are brought to light and discussed. Readers that are particularly bothered by the CT reserve the right to not read it at all. They also have the opportunity to contact the staff and contribute their ideas of what should be published instead. They can even write those articles.
Ultimately, running a student newspaper is a learning process. When the current staff became editors, we collectively agreed that the CT’s presence in student life was minimal and that interest in writing for us was low. We have modernized the CT’s design. We do our best to publish news and features stories about which students would not otherwise know. We reevaluate our decisions and aim to improve. Because our student life presence had been so minimal, controversy was and still remains the most effective method of catching the student body’s attention as a publication.
In sum, the reason you may be reading this editorial board, and this issue in general, is our publishing of controversial articles. To our usual readers, we thank you for reading the rationale behind what we publish. To our new readers, welcome to the Campus Times, and we hope you continue to pick up our weekly issues.



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