UCLA’s Daily Bruin Reverses Course, Decides to Run ‘Womyn’ Letter

In the end, womyn won outThe Daily Bruin at UCLA ultimately decided to run a recent letter to the editor containing the word “womyn”– a feminist variation of “women.”  Its publication represented a reversal of the editorial team’s initial decision, one the paper’s editor-in-chief now confirms was a mistake.

The 30-second recap: Members of a student group at UCLA recently pulled a letter to the editor they had submitted to the Daily Bruin after the paper’s editors declined to run the group’s favored alternative spelling for the word “women.”  According to Google, womyn is a “nonstandard spelling of ‘women’ adopted by some feminists in order to avoid the word ending -men.”

As they explained in an editor’s note, Daily Bruin staff felt “use of the word ‘womyn’ in our newspaper would represent a social and political stance that we, as a news organization, should remain neutral on.”  The group ran the letter on its blog instead, criticizing the Daily Bruin’s decision.  Subsequently, after deliberating internally and gauging public reaction, the paper accepted the letter for publication, complete with the group’s favored “womyn” spelling (partial screenshot below).

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In an email, Daily Bruin editor-in-chief James Barragan explained the paper’s decision to reverse course:

“After we made the decision we paid close attention to the comment boards, which always have very strong insights into any editorial decision we make. After seeing the conversations that were occurring on there, I began to rethink my decision and seriously think that we had made a mistake. So I sent out an email to our editors asking what they thought of the decision.

“The majority of our editors thought that the word should run because it was an opinion submission and the word represented the opinion of the group, not ours, something that should be understood since the piece is running in the Opinion section. After confirming that the staff felt the same way as I did, we got to work preparing to run the submission and wrote the editor’s note explaining why we had changed our initial decision.

“As the editor’s note says, we felt that the spelling of the word ‘womyn’ was essential to an identity that was central to the opinion they were expressing in their submission, so we decided to allow them to spell it that way.

“We try really hard to be a community newspaper here at the Bruin, so we valued the input the community gave on our comment boards and then talked about it amongst the editorial staff to make sure we made the right decision. In this case, we decided the best thing to do would be to allow the word to run. . . .

The one very important thing I’d like to point out for people to remember is that we’re all students. Yes, we run college newspapers, but this is our education in journalism, especially at UCLA where there is no journalism major. So mistakes are bound to happen, and I think I, at least personally, learned a lot from this incident and I hope to keep learning from the things that happen here at the Daily Bruin.”

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UCLA Daily Bruin Loses Letter to the Editor Over Dispute About Spelling of Word ‘Women’

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