Editorial: What do you have to say?


Last weekend, an edit desk that was published at 8 p.m. got more than 3,000 views before midnight — numbers The Brown and White doesn’t typically see on a newly published story. Or pretty much any story.

The article sparked controversy among the Lehigh community, both on- and offline, about a wide-reaching topic that can both unite and divide students — Greek life.

The Brown and White tracks reader traffic through Parse.ly, a web analytics tool.

An assistant sports editor wrote a piece for the opinion section to reflect her opinion, just how editorials written by The Brown and White’s editorial board reflect our opinions.

The Brown and White’s reporters do not inject their opinions when reporting on stories for the news, lifestyle and sports sections. The opinion section, however, is where they can express their own points of view.

Almost every newspaper has an opinion section. Unlike other sections, its content does not necessarily reflect the views or beliefs of the paper as a whole.

Everyone — from an assistant editor to the editor in chief — is granted the opportunity to write an edit desk every semester. Not only can they write about and cover issues they think are important, but they are able to take their observations and share them with the public. That is the ultimate goal of the edit desk.

College is a place where students can find their voices and use them to challenge norms and push boundaries. If not here, where?

Pieces written for the opinion section are meant to spark a conversation, not invite aggressive discourse.

We all need to remember that it is OK to be controversial. Being able to share your differing opinion takes courage.

The responsibility of journalists is to inform readers while encouraging them to challenge the beliefs and ideas of the people around them.

Only reading content that confirms what you already know is not interesting, nor is it intellectually stimulating.

Just because an opinion is provocative does not mean it is unworthy of being published, so, as editors, we will not censor or hinder what writers would like to say — unless it is lewd or libelous.

That’s a right protected by the First Amendment.

For those who are concerned that “anyone can write for the paper” — well, you can.

Though it is fine to post your opinion as an anonymous comment online, you can also submit a letter to the editor. Leave your name on it. Then you can be part of the conversation too.

There is a reason this edit desk has more than 10,000 views. People flocked to this controversial article and shared it with their friends, whether or not they supported the opinion.

The Brown and White staff is made up of students from all different backgrounds — we study various subjects and are involved in the arts, engineering, business, athletics and Greek life, among other interests. Each of us as individuals have different points of view.

As members of the publication that serves the Lehigh community, we always try our best to have our fingers on the pulse of what is happening on and around campus. We report on a wide range of issues, and we track user engagement on stories to gauge our readers’ interests.

Stories concerning Greek life often attract the most attention.

For reference, an investigative report on opioid addiction in the Lehigh Valley was published in the same issue as the controversial edit desk. Barely more than 400 readers have viewed that piece.

Our reporters write compelling articles about the community, local elections and sexual assault — topics that affect us all — which don’t receive as much attention as pieces about Greek life. While Greek life is an integral part of student life, it is not all that Lehigh has to offer.

The staff of The Brown and White is comprised of Lehigh students. We write opinion pieces based on our individual experiences, which may differ from the experiences of others at this university.

Whether or not you agree with an opinion, people have the right to use their voices.

As journalists, our ultimate goal is to engage our readers in civil and informed discourse.

We are proud to report on a community of diverse and dynamic individuals. We value and celebrate the differences in opinions on this campus. It is our hope that our readers do, too.

Comment policy

Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.


  1. “Aggressive discourse” We can all agree that is not OK. Personal attacks directed toward the writer-not ever OK. No one disputes the Assistant Sports Editor’s “right to use their voices.” Rather, the backlash, attention and 60+ comments were about the full-on lack of accountability, deflection and “other- groups- do- much- worse things-and- why- aren’t- they- punished- like -AXO?” complaining that has engendered so much outrage. And, C’mon B&W, that opinion piece was not just provocative, but is harmful to AXO because it screams “we did nothing really wrong” and that is offensive to many, many of your loyal readers who object to the degrading acts that led to this whole sordid situation.

  2. Pingback: Editorial: What do you have to say? | Hellas Zone

  3. Why is your “publication” trying to defend an organization that is complaining about getting a slap on the wrist for a scavenger hunt including a slew of illegal things? You’re just asking for trouble. If Lehigh wants to be taken more seriously by the public and lose their “party school” image, this is definitely not the way to do it. Dissappoitned.

  4. Everyone who commented on Madison’s post, including myself, acknowledged that Madison is entitled to voice her opinion, and anyone who blamed The Brown and White for publishing the piece was quickly rebuffed. The crux of all of our arguments in the comments section was that Madison’s editorial contained fundamentally flawed logic and misguided opinions and peddled a false narrative about Alpha Chi Omega’s actions, which were documented in the photo of AXO’s road rally list that seemingly many of the commenters had seen. Nearly every person commenting pointed out that, in laying out her argument, Madison was deflecting blame off of AXO and her friends by engaging in whataboutism and lamenting about the fairness of the ramifications. While she may have been entitled to voice her opinion, particularly because she is a member of AXO, practically speaking she probably did herself and her sorority sisters a disservice by drawing widespread attention to AXO’s disciplinary issues that had previously been kept sort of quiet.

  5. Robert Davenport on

    I believe that the interest in this article is may be because of the interest in Greek Life but hope that it is more about the outrage concerning the activity. Consider a residence hall involved in the same activities, would people still be outraged?

    “Aggressive discourse” I agree with HUH. The comments of trollers, idiots and jerks (TiJ) say more about them than about you. When you write an opinion and put it out there, you can usually count on an opinion in response. These responses deserve attention also. TiJ responses are not useless.

    Editorials and articles sometimes get no response because they either lack relevance or are undisputed. I don’t think any one is going to say opioid addiction is a good thing. Some good topics are ignored by The Brown and White (B&W). During the time of the Viet Nam war, the average number of people killed in auto accidents each year was greater than the total US deaths in the war. I don’t remember any B&W articles about auto deaths, probably would have been ignored, but do remember a 1966 article about the first Lehigh grad to die In Viet Nam, a wrestler and Bethlehem resident. I have wondered why the recent article on alcohol related hospitalizations of Lehigh students received relatively minor attention.

    On the whole the B&W does a good job. This editorial is an example of that.

  6. Robert Davenport on

    “The Brown and White’s reporters do not inject their opinions when reporting on stories for the news, lifestyle and sports sections.” I’ll comment on the Atlanta Journal and Constitution but not The Brown and White. Opinions do get injected into news stories. Subtly by what is inserted into the article and what is left out, the article itself may by totally factual. Children a great at this. More openly is the use of terminology or words with connotations. You may get a clue to a writer’s opinion when you read the following: Pro Choice, Anti Abortion, Pro Life or Freedom Fighter, Patriot, Terrorist. Faulty logic can also convey opinion. I imagine that B&W reporters are taught not to inject their opinions while considering that is a difficult task.

  7. I am a libertarian so I don’t believe unis should govern student behavior beyond classroom and academics. Students should live off campus to keep the separation clear. But unis increasingly want them an campus all four years for the $$$ and social engineering control.

    My reaction to the piece is surprise at how poorly written it is. The author’s argument is not persuasive, in fact counter productive, and the author’s logic is poor. Maybe the asst editor’s received help and advice; if so that would be equally as telling.

    Student asst editors should write their opinions. But if there is not proper instruction and support in an editing process then newspaper students will not improving their writing ability and the public is left very unimpressed by an asst editor’s opinion piece.

    What is review and support is provided, if anything, in the editorial review process before publication?

  8. This is all fairly obvious and does not really need to be stated. It, however, does not change the fact that AXO admitted to several conduct violations in an editorial that was frankly nonsensical and hard to follow, logically speaking. Everyone has the right to state their own opinion, which means BOTH the AXO editorial and disgruntled commentators have done nothing wrong. This new editorial has nothing to offer the Lehigh community and only affirms what everydoby knows.

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