Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A dose of Common Sense

This piece was written by Christian Myers and Stephen Hawn, on behalf of the Common Sense editorial staff, and originally published as an editorial in Common Sense on April 23, 2014.

The University of Notre Dame is a world-class, Catholic institution of higher education. The University of Notre Dame is not “conservative,” nor is it “liberal,” nor is it ideologically monolithic in any other way—individuals from other religious traditions are welcomed and valued.

There are many voices at Notre Dame and the University’s purpose as a place of learning necessitates that it remain open to all voices. At the same time, it is incumbent on those individuals who represent distinctive experiences and perspectives to speak up in order for that openness to mean something.

In 1986, the Observer's editorial board refused to publish articles supporting gay and lesbian student rights, articles written from a clearly feminist perspective, and articles criticizing the University’s investment in then-apartheid South Africa. In response to such censorship, an independent student publication called Common Sense was formed.

Common Sense published for 25 years, until the spring of 2011. Despite the many achievements of progressive students and faculty, individually and as organizations, since then, the absence of a sustained communication of a progressive message on campus has been glaring. For example, the Observer ran a viewpoint letter this semester that claimed, “dissenters of our lady’s conservative, Catholic culture should simply leave or accept it.”  However, there is more to Notre Dame than simply conservatism and Catholicism, and we feel that minority viewpoints should be heard. Thus, we have decided it is time to bring that important voice back to campus, to give Notre Dame a dose of Common Sense.

The mission we have set for ourselves in revitalizing Common Sense is to provide “a progressive perspective for the Notre Dame community.” This means we will provide insight and a unique take on campus happenings and issues, call attention to and inform the community about significant national and world events, and act as a facilitator for our readers’ voices to reach a broader audience.

We will make sure that topics such as social justice, environmentalism, gay rights, ethnic minority rights, church teaching, women's rights, minority religious rights, and many other issues are properly addressed and that the progressive perspective on these issues is conveyed with capability and conviction. We hope you recognize our commitment to this mission in this first edition of our paper’s new embodiment, and we hope to continually strengthen that commitment even as we solidify our presence on campus and broaden our reach in future years.

We will also strive to fulfill our mission in the right way. We will make every effort to maintain factual accuracy, civil discourse, and ethical behavior. We are working from a definite perspective, but that does not excuse distortion of facts to fit a preconceived narrative or vitriolic reactions to other perspectives. To our minds, this commitment is inescapably crucial to the rest of our mission.

We hope that you will read our content in print and online, use our publication as a megaphone for your own expression of progressive convictions, and engage in the discussions we hope to spark around campus. In turn, we will continue to produce as much content as we can on important, though-provoking, and elsewhere neglected topics for as long as we can.

We look forward to a bright future for Common Sense as part of a bright future for Our Lady’s University. Love thee Notre Dame.

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