In its editorial entitled “RH bill, Ateneo, and La Salle: Of lemons and cowards,” The Varsitarian came out swinging with logical fallacies, factual errors, and distasteful ad hominem attacks against RH bill supporters among the faculty of both Ateneo and La Salle.
Throughout its 84-year history, The Varsitarian has certainly had many moments of brilliance, but this most recent piece is an unfortunate stain on that record.
In reality, though, it is a record that is hardly spotless. Who can forget that November 2008 editorial by the paper branding the 14 Ateneo professors who then came out in support of the RH bill as the “14 Horsemen of the Apocalypse?”
With our conviction that a student newspaper must promote rational dialogue and the fruitful exchange of ideas for the benefit of the larger community, we find The Varsitarian’s willingness to employ a kind of dismissive language that verges on the fanatical as completely unacceptable.
A student publication that is arrogant enough to dismiss the participants of a debate as mere “intellectual pretenders and interlopers!”—complete with an exclamation point—does a disservice to all its readers. It’s as if it only seeks to demean and destroy, without contributing anything of substance to the larger social discourse.
The Varsitarian may be the official student newspaper of a pontifical university, but it is still a student newspaper. The stands that it must make are not exempt from the basic expectations of respect, decency and logical sense—valid demands on any credible publication.
The GUIDON itself has had its fair share of mistakes. Nevertheless, while our respective publications have their own distinct identities, fairness and fidelity to the facts are justifiably demanded from all journalists. Whatever stand The Varsitarian chooses to take on the RH bill or on any contentious topic, it must know that, as with any other media organization, its output will be held to the standards of sound journalism.
Unless The Varsitarian truly believes that its audience is purely uncritical, the paper owes it to that audience to treat them as thinking adults who can distinguish well-reasoned arguments from unsound drivel.
The students of the University of Santo Tomas deserve far better, and the first step The Varsitarian can take is to honestly, sincerely and critically reevaluate itself. Perhaps it is high time for The Varsitarian to point its penchant for impassioned critique unto itself and hopefully establish itself as a publication worthy of its readers’ respect.