Publishing anonymously is not ideal, and is something that The Cascade generally tries to steer away from, but occasionally it’s necessary. The Cascade published a piece last month anonymously, which recently received more feedback online than we expected. The writer had asked to remain anonymous, and this was one of those situations where we thought it was necessary. The writer shared their experiences of living at Baker House, UFV’s campus residence, and commented on how there seems to be a cultural divide between international students and domestic students. We knew that the opinion the writer expressed would not be agreed with by everyone and although it’s good to hold writer’s accountable for their writing, we agreed that in this case, the piece should be published anonymously.
While everyone is entitled to their own opinion and the campus newspaper is the perfect platform to voice that, this was a situation where publishing the person’s name could have resulted in hostility towards the writer. Being a university on the smaller side, it’s not uncommon for a lot of UFV students to know each other personally, especially if they live in Baker House, and the last thing The Cascade wanted to do was create tension between students, simply because one felt like sharing an opinion that others might not have agreed with.
However, this isn’t simply a problem at UFV, or even universities in general. As society has become more inclusive and forward thinking, sometimes the old ways of looking at things are pushed aside. It’s not that this is necessarily a bad thing — transitioning into an accepting society is good — but more often than not, anyone who does not share what is now the common opinion is looked down on.
I spent a few weeks of the end of last summer road tripping through the States. The long drives were spent listening to whatever public radio station I could find in each city, and I was shocked at how different their news stories were. Gay marriage had just become legalized and was still a hot topic in every news source.
A public radio station in Missoula, Montana, which felt like the heart of Republican America, interviewed a state senator (I think — it’s a little too long ago to remember exactly who it was) that opposed the passing of the bill. Although it was clear that the senator’s opinion wasn’t shared by the general public and was opposed by many, she was still given the opportunity to comment and her point of view, which was presented logically and ethically, was valued, even though not agreed with.
I know that the States is in no way a role model, especially in current circumstances, but I admired how they handled representing both sides to an argument, even if one of the sides was one that I didn’t agree with.
Fast forward to more than a year later, and more than 1,000 kilometres away, and I honestly can’t say that this is the situation here at UFV, or the rest of Canada. There’s been times throughout my university career where I’ve kept my mouth shut in class or in discussions with other students instead of sharing my opinion on certain issues, simply because I know that I won’t be agreed with and it’s just not worth the hassle. Part of this may be, and probably is, a result of fear of confrontation, but it seems as if siding with certain political stances that the majority of the population no longer agrees with instantly labels you as “one of those people,” no matter how educated or well-informed your opinion is. We pride ourselves in having become an inclusive society where all walks of life are accepted, and that’s great, but we need to remember that all walks of life includes views that may be seen as outdated.
An opinion is an opinion, whether it lines up with what’s seen as politically correct or not, and everyone should be entitled to share their own — in a respectful and tactful manner, of course — without fear of ruining their reputation or being looked down on.