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May 5, 2009

Over A Year Later, We’re Still Here…and Growing
By George Scoville

It was a typical Thursday morning. I arrived on campus five hours before my only class (just to find a parking spot). I was sitting in the Massey Business Center lobby, sipping my fair-trade Corner Court coffee and preparing for that afternoon’s Nietzsche class with Mark Anderson. I was minding my own business, just sitting there in my Phish hoodie, with my Predators cap pulled down over my face.

“Hey look! The Right Aisle Review! Right-wing PROPAGANDA!”

I still have no idea who you are but I thank you for the warmth of heart you gave me that morning. People who believe this is nothing more than a liberal-debasing or pro-Republican rag have missed the point entirely. This publication is the brainchild of a group of like-minded students who couldn’t believe that a university campus existed in America that didn’t have a political rag. The absence of open political dialogue at Belmont was the impetus behind creating this newspaper. The ground was fertile for launch given the advent of Debate ’08.

I may be speaking for myself here, but I’m not out to convince you that I’ve gotten it right in the realm of political philosophy, ideology, or policy preferences.

Working for the Right Aisle Review is a matter of practical virtue. John Stuart Mill wrote in his essay “On Liberty” that nobody has a monopoly on truth – that only through continuous discussion do we get anywhere close to truths about human experience. Any prohibition of speech or thought – no matter how erroneous the conclusions might be – is the most egregious form of tyranny a society can suffer.

This university’s overwhelmingly Leftist slate of campus guests is the very type of tyranny against which Mill would have us guard ourselves. I view this publication’s work as a service to the community – a political good in and of itself, independent of the content we publish. I pity those of you upon whom this notion is lost.

Some of our critics have accused us of being harsh or mean-spirited. This strikes me as odd, given our efforts to promote a reason-centered, analytical forum that welcomes submissions from everyone – students and faculty alike – including our ideological counterparts. We have been vigilant in upholding the university’s Mission, Vision, and Values.

By contrast, though, our critics have taken up the mantle of subverting us. We have found stacks of our newspapers in the trash in Wheeler Humanities Building and the library. We have also found stacks of the Belmont Vision distributed on top of our papers, even though the school provides the Vision with distribution racks (and won’t permit us to provide our own).

We receive emails that attack our publication, but which furnish no substantive critiques. We heard through the grapevine that at least one administrator labeled the Right Aisle Review as a “tendentious tabloid” and that some professors won’t even allow their students to bring this paper into class with them.

Some have asked “Is this thing going to survive after you and Travis graduate?” or “Have you guys been able to raise any money?”

I’m happy to report that we have a prudent reserve built that will sustain this publication’s needs for no less than one calendar year. I am equally proud to announce the formation of an Alumni Advisory Board, which will both continue to assist the organization’s new leaders as they navigate the challenges of running a controversial newspaper and which will assist in securing a steady stream of income to sustain it long term.

Our Twitter following has doubled since our last edition and our new website boasts over a thousand unique visits in just a few weeks of operation. To our detractors: I’m sorry – but the Right Aisle Review will be a lasting institution on this campus.

You don’t have to agree with us. We count on you not agreeing with us; it’s the only way a project like this would ever work. We don’t even agree with each other on a lot of policy issues. But this project has helped me continue to mature as a writer, provided me with an opportunity to work with younger writers, taught me how to overcome bureaucratic adversity, boosted my confidence and effectiveness in fundraising, and has provided me with an opportunity to lead people in a forum that matters.

So I thank you, Belmont community, for providing me with one of the greatest learning experiences of my life.

George Scoville is a senior Philosophy and Political Science double major. He will attend American University’s School of Public Affairs in pursuit of a Master of Public Policy beginning this fall.

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