Defending the Lasso Editorial Board’s choice to endorse a candidate

Students hold a young Democrats poster

George Mason students hosting a “Young Democrats” club meeting. Despite a low percentage of voting students, many students are politically active and care deeply about the results of the election.

Colter Adams, Managing Editor

The Lasso has heard several complaints over our decision to endorse a particular candidate for President. We have received a number of responses to our article, “The Lasso Endorses Clinton for President,” and in our annual readership survey, 20% of respondents who do not read The Lasso mentioned concerns with bias.

We believe it is important to explain to our readers why we, and so many other publications such as Washington Post, New York Times, and more, choose to endorse candidates.

The primary reason is in order to propagate political literacy and an understanding of key policy issues among our readership, so if one candidate provides a better explanation for how they will support our nation and community it is our editorial department’s duty to convey that.  

We also believe that even though we are a student newspaper, and represent a population that largely cannot vote, it is still very important to endorse a candidate. As a school, we look to empower students to participate in our democracy as full fledged citizens in the future by becoming passionate and engaged in the issues relevant to it.

By endorsing a candidate, we provide a forum for discussion for dissenting and assenting students who would otherwise not be provided with an opportunity to engage in political discourse to the same extent.

The Lasso’s endorsement was not published with the intent of representing the entire student body’s views, or even the views of all of our editors.  Nor did we restrict opinionated content that contains endorsements of other candidates. For example, one Lasso reporter, David Martinez, published an opinion favoring the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Any student at George Mason can and is encouraged to submit articles for publication consideration.

All articles that are opinion based are located under a single heading, “opinion,” and are labeled accordingly. In this way, we strive to make it clear when we are strictly reporting on facts and when we are voicing our ideas.

It is also important to distinguish that The Lasso endorsement was published as an editorial. As per our publication policy,  “The views stated in editorials represent that of a majority of the Editorial Board,” which means that our endorsement was agreed on by a majority – but not necessarily all – of the Lasso writers in the journalism class. When disagreement does arise, we always encourage a counterpoint opinion.

As a publication, we believe that the students of our school should have the right to broadcast their own opinions, and we provide a forum to do so.

The Lasso also provides a comment section under every article that allows readers to respond in which we encourage dialogue between our writers and readers through the comments. The Lasso keeps the comment section to encourage free speech, and we value reader feedback.

One student, in response to our online readership survey, noted: “school newspapers shouldn’t be sharing political opinions because most students can’t vote.”

However, policies instituted by our government and president will directly affect all students who will be paying taxes, buying property, attending college and eventually vote. It is important to us that students are exposed to the opinions of their peers pertaining to these issues so they can develop or strengthen their own views, whether or not they can vote.

Considering our goals to promote both the free expression of our student body on our publication, and to publish information relevant to the students of our school, we stand by our decision to endorse a presidential candidate.