Staff Editorial: On Controversial Topics Like Abortion, the Foghorn Mediates Rather than Self-censors

Even the most ideological members on staff recognize the importance of the diversity of voices that appear here. 


The idea that, because the Foghorn is the undergraduate paper of a Jesuit college, we should only run student opinions aligning with Catholic teachings is an un-Catholic call for destroying a pattern of fruitful, compassionate, respectful, and enriching dialogue with doctrines of worldviews other than that of the Catholic faith. It also assumes wrongly that the students and its newspaper are, by simple virtue of our association with USF, the spokespeople of Catholic or Jesuit values, which, despite popular belief or desire, is not necessarily the case.

One year ago, the Foghorn was in a position almost congruent to where we are today.

Predictably, after publishing a column by a student writing on a religiously charged social issue (gay marriage), the newsroom was at the receiving end of a series of critical letters and comments.

The staff replied with an editorial explaining the responsibility of a student newspaper on a Jesuit Catholic campus to be “a trusted forum for the civil, free, equitable, and productive exchange of ideas.”

The difference between the controversy of a year ago and the present point of contention— last week’s piece by Amanda Rhoades praising the legal right to an abortion outlined in Roe v. Wade— is that today’s Foghorn is answering for a perceived abandonment of a Catholic identity. Last year, while defending  the choice to run a student’s opinion in support of the Catholic stance against same-sex marriage, we answered to accusations of having a traditionalist bent.

We explained then that, even when the author of that marriage piece, Dylan Hull-Nye, touched on a very electric topic; our decision to run his contribution was justified because his commentary on the official Catholic teaching on marriage “introduced a relevant, if controversial, element to the ongoing discussion of ‘What does it mean to be a Catholic college?’”

Then, as today, the how and why behind what this editorial page publishes comes down to our role to sustain a conversation for this paper’s primary audience: the USF undergraduate student body. The Foghorn, particularly on the opinion page, seeks to mediate constructively between parties, perspectives, or “sides” of relevant issues that might otherwise never come to understand each other, much less talk to each other.

The featured rebuttal on this page from a USF alum to Amanda Rhoades typifies the type of strong, yet compassionate and level-headed exchange the Foghorn exists for. Though we run under the wing of a Catholic institution, the Foghorn’s primary responsibility is not to gauge how Catholic or un-Catholic our content may appear to readers. Even the most ideological members on staff recognize the importance of the diversity of voices that appear here. As long as we have a say in it, the Foghorn will continue to focus on perfecting our role as a “trusted forum for the…productive exchange of ideas.”

*Correction: 

Note: the attendance at the 2013 Walk for Life in San Francisco, mistakenly identified as “hundreds” in “40 Years since Roe v. Wade, Some Still Determined to Halt Progress” is estimated to have reached 50,000 at the end of the march. Additionally, in that piece, Amanda Rhoades’ claims on the effects on women turned away from an abortion they sought are drawn from the “Turnaway Study,” a longitudinal and continuing project conducted by Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a research group from the University of California, San Francisco.


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