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Student Newspaper Retracts Story Because 'the Majority of Our Quotations Came from White Students'

AP Photo/Eraldo Peres

A student newspaper editorial board at a New York liberal arts college retracted and apologized for a story published last month detailing a former Obama administration official's decision to opt-out of giving a planned speech at the school because the story quoted too many white students.

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Vassar College's newspaper, The Miscellany News, wrote a story in February about former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson's decision to longer deliver a commencement speech at the school after he faced campus criticism about his migrant deportation policies.

On Wednesday, the newspaper issued an apology for the article primarily quoting white students, explaining that the editorial board values "diversity and inclusion."

"The majority of our quotations came from white students and therefore we reduced the positions of students of color to a singular, tokenized perspective," the apology statement read.

The statement said the piece was removed in an effort to "prevent further harm among the communities we misrepresented."

"However, misrepresentation is not the only issue in the article—to state so would be a grievous oversimplification," the statement read. "Our article exemplifies many of the institutional flaws and structural problems within our paper."

It stated that journalism has "historically been a white-centric, often elitist field, and The Miscellany News is not immune to the consequences of these structures." 

"The publication of the article and its subsequent removal reminds us of the systemic issues our members are implicated in, as well as the privilege and lack of diversity that we have allowed to persist for generations across our boards," the apology continued. "None of our explanations for the failures of an individual article can mitigate the problem of past coverage on issues related to people of color, nor address in full depth the issue of representation within our board."

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To address the "systemic problems" at The Miscellany News, the newspaper will create a review board separate from the editorial board in an effort to ensure the "veracity" and "integrity" of a quote's representation, the editorial board's statement noted.

Johnson, the first black man to serve as DHS Secretary, will be replaced as commencement speaker by actor John Leguizamo, who The Miscellany News said has "pride in his Latinx ethnicity."

This is just the latest controversy surrounding Vassar College. In 2015, a school administrator tore up a copy of the U.S. Constitution, according to Project Veritas.

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