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In the span of only a few weeks, many of us were asked to evacuate our campus, as classes moved online and annual events—including Commencement—were canceled for the first time in centuries. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, students, alumni, faculty, community members, and more have engaged in spirited debate over how universities have responded to a public health threat that will impact global communities for years to come. The opinion section is still committed to our mission of providing a fair and equal representation of campus discourse. It is even more important now than ever to hear from you—as our words can bring us closer together while we are in isolation.

The opinion section publishes op-eds from Columbia students, faculty, and staff; residents of the surrounding area; and others. We encourage you to send in drafts of op-eds, feedback, and ideas that you would like to work with us to develop further to opinion@columbiaspectator.com. Drafts should be submitted as a Google Doc attached to an email. In addition to the op-ed draft, a working title and byline (which can be found at the end of all published op-eds) and phone number should be included in the submission email.

What is an op-ed?

An op-ed is an article that represents the fact-based viewpoint of the named author or authors, although anonymity may be granted in limited circumstances at the discretion of the editorial page editor, managing editor, and editor in chief.

It is distinct from a news article in that it does not purport objectivity, nor does it include unsubstantiated direct quotes. It should be written in paragraph form, with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. An op-ed should not be a list of grievances, an advertisement, or anything else that does not contain an opinion framed by a well-structured argument with a clear thesis statement.

Important factors to consider before submitting

Relevance to Columbia | Op-eds must center around issues that pertain to the Columbia, West Harlem, or Morningside Heights communities.

Timeliness | There must be a reason why the Columbia community should care about the op-ed at the time of publication. We typically gravitate toward pieces that address recent events in order to most accurately capture the response of our community and provide content that readers are most interested in at the time.

Originality | The opinion or argument presented in the op-ed should shed light on a new perspective or approach a problem from a new angle; generally, it should do more than reiterate what has already been published. Additionally, Spectator does not publish content that has already been published elsewhere—this includes long Facebook posts. Once an op-ed is published, it becomes the property of Spectator and cannot be republished elsewhere without express permission.

Word limit | Generally speaking, Spectator op-eds are 600 to 800 words long, although exceptions can be made.

Acceptance and editing | Due to the high volume of submissions we receive, we cannot promise that we will respond to every submission. Please note that submissions that do not receive a response via email within a week typically were not chosen to move forward with publication. If your piece is selected, it will encounter multiple rounds of editing by multiple editors. The first few rounds of content editors will edit using the suggestion feature on Google Docs which will allow you to accept or reject the edits. If you disagree with edits, we encourage you to comment on why you do so. The last few rounds of copy edits will be accepted at the discretion of your opinion editor. You will be notified to check your document for edits throughout the process via email or text.

Tamarah Wallace is the editorial page editor at the Columbia Daily Spectator. She can be personally reached at tamarah.wallace@columbiaspectator.com.

COVID-19 op-eds submit discourse how-to
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