Many have read or heard about a Vanderbilt Political Review article published in April 2019 entitled, “OP-ED: What Do We Gain from Allowing Chinese Espionage?” We as an editorial board object to the discriminatory rhetoric contained within the article. Strong responses on campus, particularly among members of the international student community, prompted us to take down the article on our site last night. Additionally, we removed the original Facebook post linking to this article until we could ascertain more information about the situation.
The decision to remove the article was not made lightly, nor was it made in order to hide the truth. We made the decision to look further into the circumstances of this article’s publication, so that our informed response could generate constructive dialogue. The writers and board of Vanderbilt Political Review commit to upholding values central to ethical journalism, including truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, fairness, and a commitment to public accountability. As such, we wish to give the writers of this article the autonomy to share their own response to this public reaction, and we wish to provide a safe and inclusive forum for members of the Vanderbilt community to respond to this event.
“Our article from April this year has had a recent explosion in views and debate. The point of the article was to illustrate a view in support for the US taking measures to curtail proven espionage activities and intellectual property theft through Chinese and American agents. It was by no means meant to target the international student community or to be a character judgment. Our thought process stemmed from various articles and op-eds published in mainstream media sources at the time and discussion in the White House. We recognize upon further discussion with members of our campus that the tone and rhetoric of the piece is unnecessarily abrasive and we wholeheartedly apologize. As the sons of immigrants, we know the virtues of diversity and never meant to alienate the international student community. We appreciate this opportunity to publish this apology and hope that VPR remains an open forum for discussion on this and other sensitive topics.”
In conjunction with this apology, the editorial board of Vanderbilt Political Review would like to issue its own response and challenge to the community. VPR is a nonpartisan political journal, a place for open dialogue and collegiality. We agree that the language and tone of the article is discriminatory, and should be changed, and we also want to affirm the importance of preserving freedom of speech. As a political journal, we take on difficult and challenging topics. Many of us do not agree with the opinions of one another, even within the board of this organization. This is what makes Vanderbilt University, and college campuses more generally, a great asset to society. If we cannot engage in open conversations with people whose beliefs and perceptions conflict with our own on campus, then we can never expect to solve the world’s most pressing problems in a much more complex and interconnected society. We hope that we create spaces for these conversations to take place openly and in a way that prepares us for the much more difficult conversations that await us after we leave this institution.
We welcome the chance for the writers to address their article once again, this time with greater sensitivity to the language and analysis they employ. If you wish to challenge the evidence or opinions presented in this article, please submit your concerns, critiques, and edits to our board. Your corrections are valued and appreciated. If you want to share how this article impacted you, whether openly or anonymously, we invite the submission of guest articles that foster healthy dialogue and an inclusive community.