We Fucked Up

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Dear readers,

At The Daily Gazette, we’re proud of our rigorous editorial process. Every article, be it news, arts, or opinion, goes through an intensive back-and-forth editing session with a section editor, and then gets read by one of the two editors-in-chief before getting green-lit for publication.

Today’s publication of “The Admissions Office Doesn’t Care About Your Values” was a failure of that process, and we apologize to those readers who were shocked not just that it said some of the things it said, but that The Daily Gazette published it.

We often publish op-eds that most of our editorial board fundamentally disagrees with, because we think that, when well-argued and respectful, those op-eds can lead to constructive dialogue. But, as many readers have pointed out, today’s op-ed failed on all those counts.

What should’ve happened last night is that either a section editor or editor-in-chief should have seen what was in the article and immediately blocked its publication. We would have then sent it back to the writer with extensive comments about its structure, tone, and evidence. Unless the article removed all its glaring issues and instead became a reasonably well-researched piece, it would never have seen the light of day.

The out-of-nowhere passage where the author writes that wealthy students “are paying not just for their own education but also for the education of their hyper-liberal classmates who resent the upper class at its core” has no factual basis. The subsequent injunction to “stop whining and get over it” is just plain offensive. Finally, there’s the deplorable suggestion that aided students warmly say “thank you so, so much for being forced to pay for my opportunity” instead of “check your privilege.” The Daily Gazette is a place for diverse opinions, but it is not a platform for self-satisfied and insidious classism.

This is our promise going forward: A heightened sense of awareness at every stage of the editorial process, particularly when it comes to the opinions section. From now on, both of our opinions editors, instead of just one, will read every op-ed, and it will then get read by an editor-in-chief. With that extra set of eyes and what we have learned from this experience, we will not again confuse a merely unpopular opinion with a callous attack.

Thank you,

The Daily Gazette editorial board

The Daily Gazette

The Daily Gazette is Swarthmore’s daily newspaper. The Gazette is sent out every work-day to more than 2,500 people, and has thousands of readers from across the world.

The Daily Gazette was organized during Fall semester 1996 by Sam Schulhofer-Wohl ’98. The goal: to provide timely coverage of campus news and Garnet sports while maintaining complete independence from the administration and student government.


  1. Hi DG,

    Thanks for the apology. The quality of the article was indeed suspect and should have gone through a few more rewrites, however I personally want to extend my support for the wide range of opinions that the DG had always stood for. Journalistic integrity and quality aside, I will never criticise the DG for publishing views I disagree with.

    • “Thanks for the apology”? Don’t you mean thanks for being a total WIMP and not allowing the debate to take place over what on the surface has truth to it at the very least shows an awareness of what is going on in the real world?

      Why is the Left so TERRIFIED of back and forth, give and take open discussion? Could it be because you are terrified of logic throwing a monkey wrench into your dialogue of the “rich” owing something to the less wealthy simply because they have less. The college liberals driven by thir far Left professors who seemingly take glee in filling the heads of young and totally inexperienced students with their own version of history and a future as only the Liberal mind can see it. they do this all the while knowing their ideas have failed in the real world wherever and whenever they have been tried. Socialism, the close first cousin of Communism with its call for a “classless” society in which no one has more than another and everyone is given what they need and want as long as it can be taken from someone else.

      I feel such pity for the students of today who will going out into a world for which they will be completely unprepared and which does not provide their much needed “safe rooms” to which they can run and hide whenever anyone terrifies them by uttering the wrong word or phrase.

  2. Thank you for the retraction. It’s good to see that the DG is willing to admit mistakes and work to correct them going forwards. Especially within hours of making the mistake itself, most news organizations take at least a day in my experience.

  3. you’re only apologizing for this because the majority of Swarthmore does not agree with it…talk about being hypocritical

    • there is a difference between logically constructed opinions that deserves a place for discourse and a simply ill informed, bigoted, bullshit. To tell students on any form of financial aid that they should be ‘thanking’ any other fellow student for their place in the college is, without question, the latter.

        • Thanks to everyone out there for my mortgage interest deduction, worth roughly the same as food stamps for a family.

      • >there is a difference between logically constructed opinions that deserves a place for discourse and a simply ill informed, bigoted, bullshit.

        Good catch. All the triggered special snowflakes screaming about how offended they are really need to can that bullshit — thanks for calling that out!

  4. The editors are indeed hypocrites. So, you have room for diverse opinions, you insist, but not the author’s opinion because the author said something that doesn’t correspond with politically correct leftist opinion?

    There is nothing wrong with recipients of aid thanking those who give them the aid. That would be the polite thing to do.

    • Except those who pay full tuition aren’t really aiding those who don’t. 45% of the college’s revenue is through endowment (http://www.swarthmore.edu/about/facts-figures), and much if not most of the money for financial aid comes out of a college’s endowment, which is independent of student tuition (https://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Documents/Understanding-Endowments-White-Paper.pdf and https://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Documents/Facts-About-College-and-University-Endowments.pdf). I say “if not most” because, as said in the second link, “A typical college or university endowment includes many individual funds that are restricted [most often by donors, but also by the institution] to student financial aid”; that is, a lot of that 45% of revenue is likely //specifically set aside for aid//. The DG article was not based on fact in the first place. And that’s even entirely discounting those who pay partial tuition, or who pay for tuition largely through scholarships and thus fall into neither of the two groups (low- and high-income) the article splits the student body into. It’s not that the opinion wasn’t politically correct – as you said, the DG is meant to allow expression of diverse opinions – it’s that it was based on an untruth, was poorly worded, and furthermore promoted a sort of classism with the “thank you” comment, implying that low-income students should view high-income students as their benefactors, lessening the value of the work low-income students put in to attend. That’s why people are upset.

      • You’re quite silly if you believe the nonsense you’ve just recited.

        Private colleges long ago adopted the high sticker-price/high discount pricing model. Here’s what that means: The true cost of a year at a private college is approximately half of the published sticker price (tuition, room and board). At most private colleges, that is approximately what most students end up paying. Some pay a little more than half, some a little less; it all depends on how attractive an applicant one happens to be.

        The situation is a bit different a supposedly elite schools, such as Swarthmore. These schools attract applicants from well-to-do families, and these families believe the hype about “elite” colleges, and are willing to pay full-freight. It is a fact that at so-called elite schools, about half the students are paying full price. This is quite a different situation that at other private colleges, where virtually no one pays full price — simply because no one would be willing or able to pay it. At non-elite schools, the admissions office publishes high sticker prices, but then award all their accepted students “merit scholarships” — which are, in fact, tuition discounts.

        Thus, at the non-elite private colleges, those that pay a bit more than half-price provide a modest subsidy to those that pay less than half-price.

        But at supposedly elite colleges, those that (willingly) pay full price (because they believe the name on their diplomas will confer a measure of cache) do most certainly subsidize other students who attend via “need-based” financial aid. Big time.

        That is why elite schools employ early decision application programs. ED is a way of identifying applicants whose families are willing and able to pay full price. And, as I’m sure you know, the supposedly elite schools now fill half of every entering class via ED.

        You are foolish indeed if you think that a school’s published sticker price is the true cost of attendance.

        And you are foolish indeed if you think that a supposedly elite college is worth paying full price to attend!!

    • In case you hadn’t noticed, the article still exists and has not been taken down. The opinion has still been voiced and 10k readers have heard it. This opinion is clearly taking up plenty of room. And, by the way, the conservative voice is well-represented at The Daily Gazette. They have published and NOT apologized for other, well-written, well-constructed articles that the Swarthmore student body has not agreed with because they believe that voices that we do not agree with deserve to be heard and engaged with. Try reading some other articles.

      They are apologizing for failing in their responsibilities as a paper, as this was poorly researched, poorly constructed, and the end was immature and inappropriate. This article isn’t bad because of the opinion; this article is bad because it is not a good piece of journalism. This may be a college paper, but there’s a level of integrity that should be upheld in all journalism, and publishing this article in THIS state was unacceptable, and I believe that this was a completely appropriate response.

        • As an outsider parent who is at neither end of the spectrum, and merely looking into Swarthmore as it is on my son’s potential list of colleges, I see both the viewpoint of the original author AND the Gazette’s apology, and I think most folks are misinterpreting the apology. The Gazette is apologizing for allowing the original article to be presented in the way that it was (not for publishing it). As for saying, “we fucked up”, I think it falls in line with the tone used in Swarthmore’s marketing materials. I, for one, found it refreshing that the paper is acknowledging its error in not ensuring that the article held up to better editorial standards, while at the same time allowing it to remain. They are not condemning the author’s right to express their opinion, or even their viewpoint – rather that the piece was not well-argued and respectful (which I felt the same way when I read it).

          And THAT is the crux. If more people (including those commenting here), expressed their opinions in a more respectful manner, more constructive dialogue could take place. Unfortunately, respect for others is eroding in today’s ‘instant publication’ mentality.

          I, for one, am guilty of sending a hurried email only to re-read it at a later time and wish I had presented myself in a less abrupt manner. Perhaps the gist of the message would have remained the same – but the presentation certainly would have been quite different if I had just taken a breather and come back to the message before hitting ‘send’. The same for anything in writing that is emotionally-charged.

          Just my two cents … my opinion on this dialogue …

  5. I am a Swarthmore parent. With some family help we are paying the full cost of my son’s education. The idea expressed in the opinion piece that those who receive financial aid should thank me or my son for funding their education is mis-guided on the facts. The total cost of any private secondary education is higher than the stated tuition — we are ALL benefiting from the endowment and other investments of generations past. The way it was stated was also offensive and divisive, and I agree that it should not have been published as written.

    But most of the editorial was making an valid point. Private and public colleges and universities need a certain fraction of full-pay students to keep their books balanced, and the process is not truly “needs blind”. The Early Decision (ED) process is an element of this — students who need aid and need to shop around for the best possible financial package can’t afford to apply ED, but the chances of being accepted ED are much higher than in the General Admission process. Intentionally or not, this skews the admitted students in favor of those who are not highly reliant on financial aid. To pretend that the process is completely “needs blind” is naive. But to make that a goal to be worked toward is noble, and that intention, even if imperfectly realized, is one of the reasons I supported my son attending Swarthmore. Keeping the pressure on the administration (at all institutions) to be diligent and transparent is important. (But accusing them of hypocrisy because the process is less than perfect is not productive.)

    • “The way it was stated was also offensive and divisive, and I agree that it should not have been published as written.”
      I disagree with you. You have deemed this article to be offensive and divisive, others perhaps not. Nevertheless, freedom of speech is meant to protect offensive and divisive views, not the ones with which we are in full or partial agreement. In an academic environment, there should be no fear of stating or publishing one’s views because they might offend. Academia must not censure itself, nor others should censor it, with taboo subjects which are not to be discussed. I am open to any subject to be published in the author’s intended form, even with superfluous, idiotic obscenities as exemplified in the sophomoric title “We Fucked Up.” Censorship seems to be the mark of socialists of all kinds, from National Socialists to Bolshevik style Internationalist Socialists. – S. Olaru ’89

  6. I’m not sure if your standards are high enough to realize this, but the title of your article and your first sentence are at odds with one another. As an outsider who stumbled across this article via social media, your use of the term rigor, in reference to the childish writing I’ve seen so far, is laughable! Is this a real university news source or a satire site?

  7. Why on earth are you apologizing??? Obviously you don’t have the balls to be a voice for ALL. So pathetic. Lets have some differing views and some actual truth once in a while! Whoever made the call to apologize is not capable enough.

  8. It’s an opinion piece. It’s not meant to be neutral, or what’s right, or the truth, or whatever a particular audience wants.

    Regarding the offensive concept that some students pay a higher rate than others it pretty vanilla. It’s how universities help adjust fees to what families can pay. And yes, those who pay full list prices subsidize those who do not.

    What’s clear is that Swathmore students only want opinions they agree with. Pretty sad, to be honest. What’s also sad is that the editorial board plans to avoid dissenting ideas in the future. Not a recipe for critical thinking.

  9. Yes, you did fuck up. You fucked up by apologizing. By being cowards. By not debating it out. It’s controversial, sure, but you should publish opposing viewpoints.

    You now are promoting superficial diversity, a world where you all think alike as authoritarian automatons. Boring.

    The author of the “offending” article has received death threats from bigots who have misrepresented her opinion. Where’s an editorial condemning the true bigots at your school?

    Of course people who pay higher tuition do help subsidize those who pay lower.
    Of course people who pay lower tuition have less opportunity and privilege, and have also earned their right to be at college.
    It’s fair to expect wealthier people to pay a little more, but it’s also fair to ask that we not perpetually attack wealthy people.
    And if society makes wealthier people pay more, then we should not resent wealth, but praise it.
    This should unite people.

    But it doesn’t, and rather than talking about this, as this article provided such opportunity, this editorial shivers and cowers and lets authoritarian students’ intolerance overrule any liberal sentiment.

    No, you shouldn’t apologize. You should be proud that you actually published representing true diversity, namely intellectual diversity.

    • Agree with you, Caleb. Those who are most offended and violent in their response are the victims of two generations of welfare upbringing without fathers (or mothers). This editorial group should be forced out.

    • I realise this is three years old, but I’ve just happened across this, and I’d like to add my two cents.
      My personal issues with the article aren’t necessarily pertinent to the actual argument presented therein so much as (1) the lack of hard factual support for claims presented as fact, and (2) the rather insensitive way in which the author addressed the issue of wealth. I completely agree with you—and the author—that it’s wrong to demonize the wealthy, particularly when taxes and tuition are already made so that the top 10% pay an incredible amount. However, the phrasing which the author used to convey this idea didn’t seem very considerate. In the same way that it’s exhausting for privileged members of society to always be aware and apologetic for their privilege, it’s exhausting for underprivileged individuals to muster undying gratitude for their wealthier peers. Additionally, the phrasing seemed to indicate that less wealthy students ought to act or feel subordinate to the wealthy, which is in itself an issue.
      I don’t think the core claims of the article in themselves compel an apology. I also don’t think the author deserved all the hatred which she received. However, what I believe *does* compel an apology is the lack of any sort of filter. Clearly, this article could have used more editing. (If you disagree with me ideologically, you must at least acknowledge that, grammatically, the article could have benefited from some editing. Notice that this sentence uses the wrong form of ‘its’: ‘Swarthmore has no right to brag about it’s socioeconomic diversity.’) Standards of ethical journalism ought to apply to student publications, particularly when students are learning how to navigate the adult world. This means that writers acknowledge a conspiracy theory as such, and that they are careful with their language so as to avoid hateful or inflammatory rhetoric. It takes as little as a sentence (such as, “I don’t have any hard evidence to show you that the admissions office acts this way, but many factors involved with college admissions, such as standardized testing, inherently discriminate against underprivileged applicants”) to temper the accusations made, and as little as some dialed-back phrasing to avoid insulting those who are already disadvantaged.
      If you want a space online where you can speak with total freedom, you have social media. Student journalism—and journalism as a whole—needs to maintain its integrity so as to remain credible.

  10. A piece like this stands on its own. Its not like you endorsed it. Plenty of articles have points that can lean either way depending on your ideology. Pretending to protect a college age , no doubt bright and intelligent student body who can clearly research what are facts vs fiction is ridiculous. When the press starts acting like some nanny protecting its children, then free thought, debate and progress are doomed.

  11. I was the op-ed editor in 1988-89 for The Phoenix and wrote my own pieces that were not in tune with the Swarthmore political zeitgeist. I would never apologize for writing anything and would never expect anyone to apologize for any op-ed. I relished the debate and criticism and never received any threats.

    If the editorial board is apologizing for an article like this, good grief. If a piece of satire ever came across your desk, would you recognize it as satire?

    And if anyone is taking offense at such an article, even worse, get over yourself. Write a letter to the editor and attack the arguments.

  12. My daughter is a Swarthmore alum, so I was interested in this controversy. The apology letter correctly points out that no evidence is offered to prove the article’s harsh allegations. Ironically, however, the extreme reactions to this article support the harsh allegations.

    One sentence of the apology sounds like a joke, “The Daily Gazette is a place for diverse opinions, but it is not a platform for self-satisfied and insidious classism.” The last half of this sentence precisely contradicts the first half.

    I do salute you for leaving the article up.

  13. So Free Speech to be censored in future then.. over some snowflakes on campus?! Call in Milo Yiannopoulos to give a lecture on this very issue at your college.. see what happens then!

    • Please, explain to me in detail why we should allow a racist, homophobic fascist manchild who is so desperate for attention that insults actors for being in mediocre reboot movies onto our campus.

      We hold ourselves to a higher intellectual standard than a sexist manbaby who thinks that the height of intellectual rigor is insulting women on Twitter.

  14. Real pity is to be felt for much of the college students of today. They will be totally unprepared to deal with the real world when they are forced to enter. To their amazement they will NOT find “sanctuary” rooms or “safe” spaces at their place of employment and when they whine of being “offended” by every word overheard which is not in agreement with their own beliefs they will be given short shrift by management and likely be shown the door.

    They can blame their too smart by half College Prof for setting them up for the huge fall they will be taking. You sad, sad kids better make sure you all reseve space in Mom and dads basement.

  15. I was going to oppose this cowardice fascism that would suppress any differing opinion, but I see the current comments have already accomplished that.

    I hope all these commenters are college students because that means there is hope for liberty in the future!!

  16. I’m ashamed of this school. And I’m loving the “snowflake” terms; those comments are correct. What a bunch of feckless, worthless pansies.

  17. The writers of this “apology” have no business editing a newspaper, let alone the opinions section of one. Moreover, as an editor more than twenty-five years of experience reading copy, I must add that the grammar, sentence construction and word choices are also rather poor and surprising, given that I understood Swarthmore students to be good and careful writers — writers who were good enough not to resort to putting F*** in a subhead.

    Sadder still is the argument behind this. The board is apologizing for allowing free speech, and for letting unapproved thoughts past the gatekeepers. This is becoming more common at schools across the United States, perhaps moreso at “prestige” schools such as Swarthmore, where the students apparently feast away in an atmosphere of utter indulgence, untrammeled political correctness and mindless ignorance of the meaning of free inquiry, free expression, a free press or even the civility to consider a different point of view.

    It’s tragic for your newspaper and your school. It’s further tragic for our nation if some of you will aspire to go on to careers in the news business. This is how freedom dies.

  18. The first time I read the “Apology” I thought that this might be a humorous satire. Then I realized it was a serious article. The author of the original article (that the editors now say they were mistaken to publish) makes a cogent argument that Swarthmore Admissions are not really need blind and that the College is misleading the public to claim a truly needs blind policy. She added a few opinions that overly sensitive people might object to, but they were opinions. I was much more offended by the editors’ vulgarity. I was also shocked that the editors would refuse to publish an article that expressed an opinion with which they did not agree.

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