Pioneer editors respond to concerns over Oct. 6 column

Patricia Vanderbilt

To those of you who expressed concern about The Pioneer‘s publication of Peter Chen’s “Take it slow while dating Chinese girls” column:

Although the Opinion section does not represent the views of The Pioneer, I am ultimately responsible for everything that we print, and in this case I am to blame.

This column was pitched as a “humorous look at dating in China vs. America.” I did not give it a close read before publication. It is regrettable but true that I physically do not have time to give everything in the paper an in-depth look before it prints. The Humor and Opinion sections are those that I am most distant from, as I consider them exercises in free speech and a reflection of the writers’ thoughts rather than of the newspaper as a whole. The Pioneer has been criticized for censoring opinions in the past; under my tenure, I want it to be a place where all perspectives can be heard. It is strange to be in a position of judgment over what is offensive and what is freedom of expression. As I cannot trust myself to ever be entirely free of bias, I tend to shy away from close supervision of the Opinion columns.

Subsequent to the publication of Peter’s column, I edited the line of the column that, in my opinion, was the most problematic. But beyond that (and even that edit is a bit of a stretch), we cannot click “un-publish” and pretend that this never ¬†occurred.

At this point, we can only take it as a learning experience. For The Pioneer, it is a lesson that all the content that we publish is a reflection of ourselves, our college and our community.

Patricia Vanderbilt, Editor-in-Chief

As the Opinion Editor, I saw Peter’s article as an opportunity to contrast dating in America and China. It would be interesting, I thought, especially because Peter is an international student. I did not foresee that readers would be offended by this column. Looking back, however, I understand how the sweeping generalities are offensive. I should have asked him to make edits and to change his statements about Chinese women that he intended to be humorous. Because English is not his first language, his humor, perhaps misplaced to begin with, was not clear. But, because I know Peter to be an extremely nice and sensitive person, I read it in his voice, rather than with an eye to how it would appear to our readers.

Kyle Seasly, Opinion Editor

On the behalf of The Pioneer, we apologize to anyone who is offended by Peter’s column and, in general, to all of our readers.