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It has been roughly two months since Hamline University's student newspaper, the Hamline Oracle, published an article covering the now well-told controversy over Islamic art in classrooms. Since then, it doesn't take too long before one can find more than five major national news outlets adding their story to the pile. Despite this, the Oracle continues coverage of what the paper itself called a "media frenzy."

Of course, this should not be a surprise. Internet searches for "Hamline University" have increased about 25 times over since then. The situation has clearly reverberated in the institution's community, and as such deserves proper addressing. However, during the Oracle's coverage, the publication received a letter to the editor. The 2,000-word letter came from Mark Berkson, a professor of religion at the school. In it, Berkson questioned if the classroom incident was indeed an act of Islamophobia, citing the diversity of opinion within Islamic tradition.

The letter lasted about two days on the Oracle's website before being taken down. In its place, the paper's staff wrote an editorial stating, "Those in our community have expressed that a letter we published has caused them harm. We have decided, as an editorial board, to take it down."

With more nuanced voices coming into the fray regarding the classroom incident, discussion has now led Hamline University to admit to a "misstep" in firing the professor. It seems like the majority opinion has settled. Before the incident had properly entered national coverage, though, the Oracle had already reinstated Berkson's letter.

While many opportunist media sources, such as those that would have an entire section dedicated to woke "academic insanity," may try to imply the publication was pressured by a "woke mob" to remove the letter, my four years working at a similar newspaper disagree. Out of my two years overseeing the opinion section of Carleton College's student newspaper, the decision to remove the letter harks back to one that my colleagues and I faced relatively often.

Whether discussing sensitive topics such as the Israel-Palestine conflict or even the college's COVID-19 policies, we often struggled with our role and responsibility. How can we, as a platform, do our community's diversity right? How can we ensure that such diversity includes diversity of identity, as well as diversity of opinion? We can continue asking ourselves these questions to no end, but at the end of the week, words need to be printed on pages. The time to stop and consider the nuances is limited.

The issue here is driven by the fact that as journalists, we are part of the community we serve. We, like the majority of our readership, are also students. We know about as much about what we should do as any average college student does. And unlike major news outlets, student news publications exist to serve communities, not profit. We cannot simply opt for the opinion that appears the most audience-friendly.

At a small institution like Carleton or Hamline, opinions that affect others deeply are much more visible. We have countless examples in history of the ways a point of view can lead to harm. When the community is tight-knit, it is obvious that we should choose to protect our peers.

On the flip side, I've observed writers from all sides of the political aisle opt to withhold their name due to fear of reprisal. Even in topics as inconsequential as changes to college traditions, the perceived ghost of "cancel culture" lingers. Still, it is not unusual for these opinion articles to generate fruitful conversations.

At a time where, according to Pew Research, about 30% of Americans see the opposite political party as "a threat to the nation's well-being," college campuses function as a microcosm of the divide. But with a smaller, closer community the social stakes are a lot higher. I appreciate the platform I have, but while the professional journalist can shrug off negative comments from "haters" in social media, the student journalist is confronted on their thoughts everywhere they go.

Aldo Polanco is editor-in-chief of the Carletonian, the student newspaper at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.