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Liz Nichols / Staff Illustrator

Throughout Spectator’s history, our journalism and business sections have failed to represent and reflect the experiences of students of color both in our coverage and in our organization. As the new leaders of this paper, we have all been complicit in or responsible for perpetuating these failures.

We’ve exploited the suffering of different identity groups and wrongly propagated the idea that students of color share monolithic experiences.

But mistakes arise not just in the stories we publish—they are often more prevalent in those we don’t.

Not only have we not covered issues that directly affect students of color, we have also not given them enough space on the pages of our newspaper.

Further, we have not sufficiently shed light on the various ways in which students of color have positively contributed to campus. By doing so, our coverage has often been written through a lens that portrays multifaceted stories in one-sided, oversimplified articles.

The lack of diversity in our business and technology teams has also affected both our internal staff culture and client relations. Our biases have influenced both the way we choose our clients and the way we interface with them.

Frankly, our staff’s internal diversity is not reflective of the greater Columbia and Barnard community, meaning that we have left out necessary perspectives from the onset. Additionally, we have often not accounted for the fact that some students may not have had access to the opportunities or resources to develop certain technical skills prior to applying for Spectator.

It is our mission to hold those in power accountable. But we cannot uphold this mandate if we cannot take accountability for our own power as an institution and the choices we’ve made, intentional or not, to privilege certain voices over others.

While we recognize these issues will not be solved overnight, we have begun making active efforts to improve diversity and inclusivity in our newsroom, both internally and externally.

First, we have developed a staff diversity survey to help us better understand the makeup of our staff and guide improvements in our recruitment and outreach strategies.

We are also instituting staff-wide sensitivity training meant to ensure that our writers and editors can thoughtfully engage with our community. By paying concerted attention to our mistakes, we hope these efforts will improve our pitching, reporting, and editing processes.

With these initiatives in mind, we are forming a committee on diversity and inclusivity to implement longer-term solutions that cultivate an inclusive workplace and guide our staff on how to best report on sensitive topics. We know this is only the first step in changing the culture at Spectator, but it is our priority.

Above all, we acknowledge that we will continue to make mistakes, but we want to foster active conversation around them within our newsroom when they do happen. And we hope this will begin to open up a conversation—both within our staff, and with you—about how to do better.

The authors are members of Spectator’s 143rd Editorial Board.

To respond to this staff editorial, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com.

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