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Last Modified: Sat, Oct 15 2011, 23:51:36 CDT

Editorials, Essays, Commentaries, etc.

Campus Times Editorials, 02.14.02, 02.08.01

Students have a right to know and understand
Editorial in the Campus Times, February 14, 2002

There have been numerous articles and commentaries about the incident involving the mutilated cat on the Fraternity Quad. Several fingers have been pointed at a variety of people involved with the situation, causing a general lack of any one clear source of information. Moreover, there has yet to be a careful look at how the incident has been handled, or how the university chose the steps it did to inform the student body and the community at large.

The first publication about the incident was a security bulletin issued nearly two weeks after the incident, which contained very little detail. Meanwhile, WHEC 10 NBC, one of the Rochester news stations, had already carried the story, prompting several other networks to investigate the issue.

By the time an official university notice of any sort was issued, the community knew of the incident, had a handful of facts on who was involved and had already begun to form the opinions that have brought us to the situations in which the fraternities find themselves.

One of the more puzzling moves was the delay of almost six weeks before the UR Public Relations office issued an official statement to the media about the event.

Not only was the university not acting in its own best interest by delaying the statement, it was also feeding the confusion and chaos around campus about whatwas happening and which fraternities would be placed on probation. By choosing not to come forward and request the assistance of the student body early on, the University took the position that solving the case was not a priority and attempting to protect its image was. One has to ask whether or not investigating the incident was even in the plan, or if there was hope that this incident would blow over like so many others.

When the AP Newswire carried the story shortly after the local news aired it, it should have been no surprise that this incident required a swift and concise response from River Campus administration. There is no excuse for a six-week delay, and there is certainly no reason for not keeping the student body more informed of issues that directly impact life on campus.

This situation may be different from any other with regard to its nature and severity, but that is no excuse for the actions of administrators in failing to provide adequate and timely information about the incident.

The student body has a right to be informed about incidents on campus, and made aware of the steps being taken to investigate the issue, before seeing it on the evening news. The actions of university administrators, UR Public Relations and other offices involved with the matter have spoken loudly in favor of not defending that right.

It is very easy to sit back and criticize what went wrong after it happened. But the fact remains that an early, decisive response would have alerted the community that the university understood the horrific nature of the crime and that it was beginning the investigation immediately.

Such a response may have cleared up a lot of the current confusion surrounding the obscure facts of the situation. Getting a straight answer from anyone close to the investigation has resulted in a lengthy back-and-forth process.

A greater issue that will require discussion is whether or not this will be the protocol for future campus-wide incidents that attract national attention. Will the best interests of UR be served before the best interests of its students? Can a lack of action in these situations be beneficial in any way to those involved?

The investigation may be out of the hands of the students, but the right to know and understand important on-campus issues is well within the best interests of the entire student body.

DuLong is a part-time student and is speaking on behalf of the Students' Association Senate Steering Committee.


Meng's self-defense 'too little, too late'
Letter to the Editor in the Campus Times, February 8, 2001

Success in public office cannot be accurately measured by the legacy that you leave, nor by the amount you accomplish. Instead, a hard-earned reputation for effectiveness and integrity is significantly more important. Student government and the way it is perceived on our campus are no different and follow the same social rules as the rest of the world as far as judgments and opinions are concerned.

Last week, the Campus Times profiled two positive projects created by the Students’ Association Senate.

The first project involves the construction of a Vietnam War Memorial to honor those from the University and the surrounding community who served our country.

The second project is the creation of the Student Services Committee, aimed at accurately gathering student opinion on a variety of matters, brainstorming solutions, and following through with both administrators and students.

In the spirit of democracy, the Campus Times tries to give the branches of our student government equal treatment.

For the first time in several weeks Students’ Association President Meng Wang utilized this printed space in which he could write about absolutely anything relating to his administration and its accomplishments.

Much to the amazement of the student body, the article appears to be nothing more than a shameless defense for his admittedly weak performance as the voice of the students.

Where were the details behind the “justified delay” in a representative Cabinet structure? Where was the meat behind the claims of a successful freshman housing model? Believe it or not, the Masquerade Ball will not go down in history as a great accomplishment of his administration, because the primary role of the President is not to program events.

He tells students to contact him for the “full explanations,” but with apathy in full force, students cannot be expected to press forward to request information he does not share from the beginning. Better yet, by choosing to use valuable printed space for his self-defense, Meng has very clearly shown that he, too, believes his performance has been less than satisfactory.

In essence, the article was too little, too late from a generally quiet administration. For once, Meng’s actions have spoken louder than words.