Mills College puts an emphasis on an education based around social justice — it’s an institution well known for having a welcoming, PC-aware campus. As students of a school such as this, we at The Campanil appreciate Mills’ commitment to making all people feel welcomed and safe. However, as journalists, we wonder when political correctness gets taken too far and turns against our right to freedom of speech. What happens when there is too much of a good thing?
Don’t get us wrong — we do not want to devolve into a culture of insensitivity and ignorance. We support the use of PGP’s, the elimination of racial slurs and careless assumptions, and consciousness of disabilities — in short, all the major issues Mills is constantly trying to deal with. But many of us have encountered situations where more emphasis is put on how we are saying something rather than on what we are actually saying. And when this is the case, we get tied up in concern over saying the wrong thing and instead just say nothing at all. We’ve experienced this as journalists both in how we obtain information and how we publish it. And often we find that this form of silence devolves into a lack of humor. When things are taken too seriously they are given more weight than they deserve, thus perpetuating the systems of oppression inherent in the lack of freedom of speech.
Of course we as journalists need to be held accountable for what we put into print, but we feel that the college as a whole has created an environment that sees things as black and white, right and wrong. We feel that as a community we often don’t look at what’s causing the issues, but instead focus on how not to talk about them. And when this happens, our freedom of speech is lost, and social justice is reversed.