I’d like to take a minute to talk about integrity.
First off, yes: this is a response to Dean of Students Lee Williams’ latest D-Log, a piece that I think mostly hit the nail on the head. However, I believe one implication in her article was off-base, and I’d like to address it respectfully. I would also like to address the points Dean Williams made that I unequivocally agree with, which are more plentiful in number.
At the Wire, we hold ourselves to the highest standards of integrity possible. That is why we work throughout the day to break news on campus. That is why we establish contact with sources both on and off campus, why we feel an obligation to let students know about news of all kinds as soon as possible, and why we quote reliable sources and do not quote those who do not wish to be quoted. And really, what kind of paper would we be if we did not do that?
The implication that one quoted story saps us of our integrity is a very, very unfortunate one to perpetuate, especially given the disturbing trend of assaults on campus that the Wire has taken great care to present tactfully and factually. First off, it demeans the students who run and write for this newspaper. Second, it strips away the very responsibility Dean Williams’ premise purports to place upon our writers in the first place. I firmly believe that it was inappropriate to add the Wire to the narrative of internet shaming and anonymous attacks in any way, as this publication truly does not seek to villify any one person in administration. In fact, I have spent time and effort using this very space to defend administration and policy changes on campus. I am not entirely sure if it was Dean Williams’ intention to say that we are part of the problem, but that very implication was one many of us on the Wire found to be disturbing and disheartening.
So, I disagree with Dean Williams on that point. What do I do now? Do I take it to Twitter? Do people on our Editorial Board post on social media anonymously? Of course not. We stand behind our words, we act with respect, and we move on. Dean Williams is unquestionably correct that anonymously and/or harshly attacking anyone via the internet is incredibly unproductive and often abusive in nature. The Wire does not tolerate that as an organization, and I personally refuse to tolerate that as a human being.
The truth is, very little is black and white in this world. Situations like the ones we cover in the Wire are nuanced and take time to fully understand. It’s very easy to find fault in something and assume that the whole thing is faulty; for example, if I’d just commented on part of Dean Lee’s article without even acknowledging the rest of it. Anonymity can be a good thing, but vitriol without nuance in regards to administrative decisions is both reductive and ineffectual. Say what you mean, but speak tactfully and stand behind what you say. Even when Dean Williams says something I disagree with, I’ve always respected the fact that she stands behind her words and says things openly even when she knows she is vulnerable to less-than-civil responses. We need more of that here.