Student journalist receives backlash for controversial article
In the middle of St. Xavier, a conservative Jesuit school outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, young writer Nick Wagner finishes his all-time favorite piece and submits it for publish, confident as can be. As the paper reaches the student body, people begin turning heads to the lengthy editorial that Wagner wrote. Titled “I Am a Feminist (yikes),” the all-male student populace began to respond to the article, for better or for worse
“The last issue of the year is published on a day called Music Fest, which is basically where we just go to our homerooms for 15 minutes then we go out front in the parking lot,” Wagner said. Once he and his peers reach this area, they start to eat the fresh barbecue, listen to the live music, and play a variety of sports. While Wagner was enjoying a fun game of soccer with his classmates, and with the anticipation of summer break kicking in full force, he received a phone call from his friend.
“I got a call from one of my friends, Andrew,” Wagner said. “He was like ‘I need you to come over (to the rowing tent)’ and I was like ‘what, why?’” Wagner realized that he might as well see what his friend was talking about, so he made way to the rowing tent – the tent in which the school’s rowing team resided during Music Fest.
As Wagner reached the tent, an unforgettable encounter strikes him.
“One of the (rowing team members) grabbed me by the shoulders and he just held me there. They didn’t attack me, it wasn’t physical,” Wagner said.
Even though he was not physically attacked in this surprise moment, he was still shocked by the turn of events.
“He put his hands on me so I couldn’t move or anything and one guy just started roasting,” Wagner said. “He was like ‘you’re awful. This opinion article is awful.’ He dissected each little bit of it that he found wrong. He even went down to individual word choices.”
This student began “roasting” for some time, and because Wagner could not release himself from the grip, he had to listen to every part of the impromptu speech.
Wagner was released from his captivity, but before he exited the tent, the rower said, “I don’t agree with you at all, but I admire your balls, kid.” Wagner then left the tent in an even better mood than he was in earlier. With this new sense of importance and confidence, he went back to the festivities of Music Fest.
Reflecting on this case, Wagner sees it as one of his shining moments in his career with St. X’s student media.
“It was great,” Wagner said.
Wagner published his personal beliefs in his school’s newspaper, The Blueprint, because it was a pressing matter to him and he felt as though there should be direct message to the students. “People at St. X really hate the word ‘feminist.’ They are really opposed to it for the most part,” Wagner said.
Due to this, Wagner made it his personal quest to educate his fellow classmates on what feminism truly is.
“They think (feminism) means something that it doesn’t,” said Wagner. “I think they think it means women hating men and women thinking women are better than men. When in actuality, it just means women want more equality.”
At the beginning of his quest, he asked for permission to pursue the piece from his publications adviser. Granted the ability, Wagner prepared the piece for the paper. After finishing it, he submitted it for pressing. Finally in print, he watched his classmates, hoping for some kind of response. In moments, he received remarkable reactions from his peers.
“(Being pushed around) was awesome,” Wagner said. “I was just so happy that people were finally reading the paper because most of the time, people at our school do not read the paper, or if they do they only read the back side, our satire section.”
As unexpected as this encounter was, it restored the faith within Wagner and his fellow writers at The Blueprint.
“If it’s like going against your opinion, you’re still happy because it means they are actually reading it,” Wagner said. “They’re engaged. They have taken something from the article even if it’s not their opinion.”