On the Moral Decline of WCU Barbara Rosenthal It is odd that someone has chosen to write in from as far away as South Carolina in response to an article published in the Western Carolinian. Perhaps the Carolinian has grown beyond its designed purpose of serving the campus community, and now provides hours of entertainment and insight throughout the South. In any event, the letter, unfortunately, was of a negative bent. The dear reader was apparently offended by the published interview with the founder of Lavender Bridges. Not only did the article raise an eyebrow or two in South Carolina, some members of the local community, who weren't exactly supportive last year, were again dismayed to seethe newspaper give coverage to this provocative organization. The bewildering thing about all of this is that so many individuals, who really have no tangible connection with the campus community, have taken such a profound interest in what is and what is not published in the Carolinian. The campus newspapers of most universities are only read by the students and faculty. The indigenous residents of the Triangle don't read the Daily Tar Heel, and the general population of Atlanta does not take an interest in the Tech or Emory publications. But as any freshman knows this is not Atlanta nor is it Chapel Hill, and a unique bond has evolved, linking the local and university communities. As evinced last year, many Jackson County residents, particularly those in the business community, are accutely interested in and easily offended by the campus paper. Last year letters poured in, not only about the coverage of the evolution of Lavender Bridges into a full-fledged campus organization, but to protest off- color classifieds and to advise certain irreverent columnists. The well-intended moral advice that was proffered to the staff was certainly deeply appreciated and quickly heeded. We all soon sought spiritual counsel from our respective ministers, rabbis, guruhs, psychiatrists, house pets, and political analysts. Unfortunately, there still exists a great dichotomy between the value systems of many locals and many members of the campus community. It is one that certainly will never be resolved, but greatfully only represents the extremists on both sides. Nevertheless, the campus newspaper still has a responsibility to present the viewpoints of diverse interests at WCU. This is based on the notion that there is something to be learned from everyone's experiences, no matter how much they might conflict with one's personal values. Classically, individuals have come to a university to learn and to grow, not simply to train for a vocation. Part of this can come from academic pursuits, but the vast majority of such enrichment is the product of interactions with others. If we opt to ignore those around us who present a challenge to our belief systems, then we are cheating ourselves of perhaps the most significant part of our education. And this university is here to educate. Since there is such a close proximity between those directly affiliated with Western and those in whose community in which we are guests, this education may serve to benefit all. Surely nothing will be gained by anyone if we all simply close our minds. Barbara Rosenthal is the International Affairs Editor for The Western Carolinian.