Our neighboring student newspaper, the University Star at Texas State University, is facing a potential coup de grâce after a (now former) writer’s column was accused of advocating the murder of white people.

The article, titled “Your DNA is an abomination,” which was ill-received by some of the Texas State University community, gained traction on Twitter and was picked up by several conservative news outlets.

Texas State University’s president publicly condemned the column, and the Texas State SGA president, Connor Clegg, called for defunding the paper if the editorial board was not fired. This response is counterintuitive to the university’s purpose: being a space where ideas can be expressed freely and interrogated, never silenced.

Our own opinion section receives numerous critiques and letters to the editor; in the past, if criticisms towards an article were well-written and constructive, we published them in the following issue.

Some of these criticisms sting. After numerous rounds of edits on the copy desk, then final top edits, the feeling of not having our message conveyed effectively, or disagreed with, can be discouraging. But it’s part of the equation of free expression. Reader responses are our checks and balances.

Just as we can practice the First Amendment by having a free, independent press, readers practice their First Amendment rights by voicing their opinions of our content. We’ve embraced this open discourse with our readers since our inception nearly 37 years ago.

Independent journalism exists because of the First Amendment, but it does not mean there are no limits to what we can say. The intent behind someone’s message matters.

The University Star’s column, in our opinion, did not have malicious intent. That doesn’t mean it did not deserve the criticism it received. However, the threat of silencing the publication via defunding has had a chilling effect on the paper, equal to censorship.

Clegg’s suggestion for the University Star to maintain its operations without student funding “like any other paper” is a disturbing move to extinguish critical thinking and open discussion on campus. We hope the University Star does not lose university funding. But if they do, maybe it’s time for total independence from the university. The Paisano has always operated as an independent student publication, as the only independent student newspaper in Texas. It’s worked well for us, but not without its challenges. Either way, it’s worth a try.

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