- Letter from the Editor
- Response to last week’s “He Said, She Said” column
- Police Log Special:
- Janet Richardson
- Letter from the Editor
I truly applaud the steps that have been taken over the past few months to improve the quality of journalistic reporting at WPI. The paper is now often filled with well-thought, well-intentioned, and well-executed articles on informative topics. The coverage of the Exxon Mobil Vice President’s presentation, the editorial on the City of Worcester’s proposed party ordinance, and the increasing coverage given to our under supported sports programs are great steps towards producing a quality product. The newspaper has been increasingly phasing out much of the irrelevant, biased, and sensationalist garbage that had regularly been published in the past.
There are, however, the occasional relapses. Last week’s “feature” by Lucy, the Patron Saint of Blind Eyes, was completely inappropriate and irresponsible. For those who haven’t read it (and I hope there are many), it was an anonymous submission about a student’s late-night adventure around campus. This student took it upon themselves to memorialize their trek, and the Towers erroneously published the account. In this particular article, “Lucy” scaled the construction scaffolding being used to restore the exterior of Alden Memorial. The vagabond then made their way across the roof of Alden, and into the bell tower.
Publishing this article is wrong on so many levels. Speaking about the intangible affects first, it sensationalizes and glorifies breaking the law, violating campus policies, and shows an utter disregard for safety. This student did break the law; they entered a restricted area without permission. It is evident that the bell tower area is restricted, because not only is the interior access to the tower locked, but the entire building is locked at night by Campus Police. The WPI Code of Conduct states, “Unauthorized entrance, unauthorized use or possession of keys or card access, and unauthorized attendance, renders one liable for judgment.” Additionally, WPI “… reserves the right to regulate the time, place and manner for activities occurring on WPI owned or controlled property.” Ultimately, what this means is that even if, for some reason the exploration of Alden Memorial did not qualify as trespassing in the eyes of the State, WPI may still pursue judicial action against this student based on campus policies. Furthermore, the construction firm and WPI take safety on a construction site very seriously. Anyone entering the construction area must be wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment, and the site is netted in to protect passersby from debris. Upon entering the scaffolding without protection, this student put themselves in danger and exposed WPI to liability. By publishing this first-hand account of committing a policy infraction, the Towers has glorified this activity in the eyes of the students and subliminally approved of these actions.
So, where does the Towers’ liability lie in all of this? The WPI Judicial Policies are introduced by the following clause from the Board of Trustees,”… the Board of Trustees formally reiterates that this university offers no sanctuary to any individual or group that condones, advocates, or exercises the taking over of private property … Any who engage in such activities will be held fully responsible, and punishment at this university for such acts will be prompt and sufficient to the cause, including expulsion.” Through this statement, WPI offers no protection to the Towers (and its staff) in cases of future “exploration”. After approving the Alden Memorial trek, the Towers expose themselves to liability in the future. If a student is harmed performing a similar action, you better believe their lawyer will be coming after WPI and the Towers for damages, they would be crazy not to. The Towers supports these activities, and in doing so they also represent the Institution. By publishing this article, the Towers has opened a Pandora’s Box of complications, one not easily sealed.
To seal the case against the Towers’ responsibility in this matter, we can turn to the policies of the Student Activities Office (SAO). Each student organization must have a constitution. A required clause in this statement is the Student Organization Council (SOC) Enabling Clause. This states that the organization as a whole agrees to follow “in word and spirit” all campus Judicial Policies, and can be held accountable for their actions. Furthermore, the Student Government Association requires that all organizations comply with SOC and SAO policies in order to be eligible to receive funding. By accepting funding from SGA, an organization agrees to abide by SOC/SAO standards.
Finally, publishing this article went against the Towers’ own regulations for publishing, which are printed on the inside cover of every issue. Of particular interest is the line “All submitted articles must be typed and include the author’s name and class year.” How this article was allowed to run “anonymously”, when the Towers does not allow that action, is very interesting indeed. Obviously, the Towers deemed this article to be so informative, so important, and so excellent, that they felt comfortable violating their own policies to see it printed and distributed to the students. This also further solidifies their culpability in any future actions, as they intentionally violated policy to print it.
Towers, you can do better. You are a student newspaper, written and managed by some of the brightest minds at WPI. Publishing this article was a mistake. It was bad for you, bad for WPI, and to outsiders it diminishes the reputation of the university. In the future, remain conscious of the reach you have, and use it wisely. Do not disrespect our student body again by publishing stories like this. Other campus newspapers are well-respected both on their campus and around the world. Institutions such as Harvard and Yale have first class news programs, the college equivalent of BBC and the New York Times. By publishing articles like the Alden Memorial exploration, you degrade the integrity of our newspaper and our school, making our paper seem more like the National Enquirer than a reputable source. I urge the Towers to apologize for publishing this material and move on with a lesson learned and their head held high. It takes a strong organization to admit a fault and improve themselves in the aftermath. Show us how strong you really are.
Class of 2010