Is the official student newspaper of the University of California, Berkeley assuming the role of self-proclaimed censors or merely playing politics- or essentially both?
The Daily Cal is refusing to publish a conservative opinion piece about students benefitting from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). The author of the piece, Naweed Tahmas says the student paper even commissioned his piece. Tahmas also happens to be the external vice president of the Berkeley College Republicans.
The paper opposed some of the things Tahmas discussed- or more precisely his points of view on certain topics. But again his happened to be an opinion piece based on his thoughts, perspectives, even feelings and political beliefs unless the student paper is suddenly changing the rules of journalism.
For one, the paper took issue with Tahmas’ belief that when student groups on campus wave the Mexican flag, it demonstrates a loyalty to their homeland over the U.S. where they are currently staying. Daily Cal claims “waving the Mexican flag is illegal” and concluded that Tahmas’ point is therefore moot. But again it was an opinion piece, and the legality or non-legality of waving the Mexican flag on U.S. grounds is not even the point of Tahmas’ piece.
Tahmas also said in his opinion piece submission that “poverty and violence (is) characteristic of most of the world outside the West” which the Daly Cal claims is “untrue” and therefore “unpublishable.” While the veracity of such a statement may be arguable depending on one’s set of criteria or parameters, isn’t Tahmas entitled to his own, perception or appreciation of socio-political matters?
Red Alert Politics was able to get the exchange of messages between Tahmas and student paper columnist Dohee Kim where the latter sent a couple of messages to Tahmas commissioning Tahmas to write the op-ed and even repeatedly checking on her progress as regards to their deadlines. After Tahmas’ submission of the said op-ed, Kim even assured the writer that the piece would be published by Tuesday.
After that came the cold message that the paper would not be able to use and publish Tahmas’ op-ed piece because “he makes assumptions unpublishable by the paper?”
While every submission to the Daily Cal does not guarantee publication, Tahmas felt the paper’s standards are being enforced selectively depending on the beliefs and biases of the officers.
The paper’s editor-in-chief Karim Doumar justifies their decision by quoting to all those asking Daily Cal’s submission guidelines which read in part:
“Op-eds that are deemed libelous, racist, sexist, homophobic or highly
Offensive in any other manner will not print. All content publishes at the discretion of the opinion editor. We reserve the right to edit all
material in accordance with our editorial standards.”
Sounds great but apparently, such lofty journalism standards only apply when it comes to conservative or right-wing views or even pro-Trump positions. They do not apply when liberal views are concerned. Last month, the paper published opinion pieces with an obvious bias or leaning for liberal views. One is titled “UC Berkeley fails to support undocumented student Luis Mora in time of need” and “Trump’s hate rhetoric affects the lives of people of color.”
The student leaders running the paper is definitely learning from their more experienced adult liberal counterparts- the “truth” they embrace that only their opinions matter and only their beliefs are “legitimate.” There’s no room for “unpublishable” opposing views.