By Katherine Stiefel
Midnight two nights ago, I was walking back to my room with a friend when suddenly our conversation was interrupted – the Tory had just published their next issue. Why would I, a member of the Princeton Progressive who less-than-joyfully follows their articles, know about their March distribution? I could see the corner of the magazine protruding from under my door – again.
I’ve received every magazine they’ve printed this year. Usually, it’s shoved unceremoniously under my door, or, if the distributors are feeling lazy, dropped in front of it. The halls of Forbes, seemingly worth the walk for the masthead of the Tory, are found littered with their prints.
The next morning as I dragged myself out of bed for class, I realized why it bothered me. I don’t care that they print an excessive amount or even that they make sure there are millions of them in Forbes. No, I’m fine with their managing decisions. What bothers me is how they choose to distribute, shoving their thoughts and words into my room, assuming that I want to read what they write. Assuming that I have to listen to them.
It’s different to put your ideas on tables in a common area or make them visible on the magazine rack in Wilcox, to invite the university to consider your words. It creates a sense of consent when a reader picks up the magazine. They have a moment where they think, “Yes, I’d like to read this!” or, equally valid, where they walk by knowing they’re not interested. By physically invading people’s rooms and forcing your words into that private space, you physically convey your disregard for my independent choice.
I realized this morning that to be socially conservative is to live off of assumptions.
The Tory staff proudly designated their first edition this year a “freshman” welcome to Princeton in an intentional jab at the university’s new use of the gender neutral “first-year” to welcome new students – because who would be offended? This is sadly not the first time they’ve attacked a university’s attempt to use less exclusive language because the inclusivity must not matter to people. The majority of female conservatives assume that there’s no place for feminist activism anymore in America because women in other places suffer worse. Conservative politicians assume that we can spend less on Social Security if we weed out the cheats ands tricks and lies overwhelming the system of retirees, disabled Americans, and impoverished families. The pro-life movement assumes women can’t make the right choices for themselves about their health care, especially with regards to pregnancy, without first a moralist lesson or two.
Obviously, this is oversimplified and an imperfect comparison between conservatism and progressivism; here, I am only speaking to the entrenched conservative organizations on the Princeton campus, like the Tory. As a student magazine funded by an independent corporation to produce hundreds of copies for each issue, the Tory is incredibly visible despite the proportionately fewer students who support their views. The Tory has enough money that reprinting articles they’ve already run for more physical content to throw at the student body isn’t an economic strain.
It’s time someone requested that the Tory masthead stop forcing their pages into every room on campus – just don’t do it by invading their personal space with notes shoved under their doors. The message only needs to be something short and simple, “Not anymore, Tory masthead: let your readers consent.”