The new dark age of silencing: The Miscellany News, the college newspaper at Vassar College, recently retracted an article not because it contained any errors of fact (which it did not) but because the article had simply interviewed too many white students in its reporting.
The article had been written to describe the controversy surrounding the school’s decision to have Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security during the Obama administration, speak at the school, and his decision to withdraw because of the uproar from students demanding he be blacklisted. From the newspaper’s retraction announcement:
We would like to use this statement to both emphasize our values of diversity and inclusion, and delve deeply into our editorial process and the resulting article in question, especially since we understand that many people in the Vassar community are unaware of the article’s removal. … In this article, we attempted to include a variety of quotes from students describing why there was protest to the announcement of him as speaker in the first place, and the students’ reaction to his withdrawal.
In prioritizing urgency over thoroughness, we made misguided and insensitive oversights with whom we were representing in the article and failed to provide in-depth reporting of the issue at large. The majority of our quotations came from white students and therefore we reduced the positions of students of color to a singular, tokenized perspective. After this was brought to our attention, the paper decided to remove the article online in an attempt to prevent further harm among the communities we misrepresented. [emphasis mine]