Letters to the Editor
Published: Thursday, March 1, 2012
Updated: Friday, March 2, 2012 13:03
In your most recent edition (Vol. 160, Iss. 33), The DePauw published a lengthy article, titled "Reporting class sparks controversy over academic freedom." It was in this article that myself, and others I have spoken to, found reason to respond with a letter to the editor.
As you mentioned in your story, DePauw is a small campus. As a result, news and campus activity travels quickly throughout the greek houses, common eating areas and over-capacitated gym.
Many students on campus, like myself, had already heard about the story around which the article focused, prior to The DePauw deciding to write about it. While the article does shed some necessary light on academic freedom and situations in the classroom, the section labeled "Stephens' Arrest" was dispensable and almost entirely unnecessary.
The incident had previously been published in the Campus Crime section of your newspaper and the detail and length with which the article focused on the crime was uncalled for.
Recognize that whatever your staff and editors publish online, stays there forever. When you highlight a student's crimes, ones that were likely a one-time mistake, that information stays on the web forever and can haunt them when looking for a future employer or internship.
I'm not saying that The DePauw should overlook campus crime or sweep every issue under-the-rug. But in an instance where the newspaper could have taken the high road and chosen not to re-embarrass a student (on her birthday nonetheless), The DePauw did not.
I hope The DePauw continues to be read across campus, as I think there are a lot of great students involved and the paper disseminates important information to our community.
I only ask that next time you have a choice about whether or not to write about a sensitive and personal issue, one that has already gone through the student ‘gossip mill,' that the paper thinks carefully about the decision…and chooses to dispel one of its biggest criticisms.
— Zachary Crenshaw, sophomore
Individual privacy should be a priority at DePauw
Academic Freedom does not equal acceptance of reckless behavior from those charged with presenting compelling information to students. What is lawful and what is in the best interest of university and it's students is not the same.
Students, and parents of those students, have a fundamental belief that when they are on the DePauw campus they will be treated with respect, that not only their physical well being is safe, but that their emotional health is cared for as well.
The fact that a visiting professor would chose a current student's records to teach investigative journalism is an assault to everyone on campus. Each student on campus is subject to the whim of whether a professor may or may not want to target them as the next "subject". The lesson being taught could have been made just as strongly without harming a 19 year old student.
An important journalism lesson here should be – are you reporting news or making news? It appears to me that Mark Tatge wanted to create news – he wanted an academic freedom discussion, he wanted The DePauw to print a controversial story, he wanted to highlight the drinking problem on campus, he wanted to make himself the center of a story – and he didn't care if a student or the university was damaged.
Additionally, he gets to hide behind the of First Amendment Rights, Academic Freedom and Journalism – and has the audacity to say he has no regrets and puts the blame on his students for informing the victim of his actions.
There is lesson here - it's about people in power using information on people they influence in a negative light publicly - socially it's called bullying, in the corporate world it's called harassment. Usually these offenses are shunned and punished. I guess at DePauw it gets you article in the paper. Shame on Mark Tatge and shame on The DePauw for printing it.
— Betsy Stephens, Alison Stephens' mother