Sometimes it is those responsible for exposing a weakness in an organization that deserve credit for making that particular organization stronger.
Although it is an unfortunate new requirement for more personal information, The Hatchet will now require those who submit letters to the editor to also include their telephone number. We realize there is no foolproof way to prevent practical jokesters from abusing someone’s right to send a letter to The Hatchet. But requiring a telephone number provides us with another way to get in touch with writers beyond our normal e-mail correspondence.
Electronic submissions are also now officially the preferred method for relaying letters to the opinions editor.
Sophomore Peter Joseph, a former Hatchet arts editor, knowingly sent a letter to the editor masquerading as sophomore Jon Reiling. The March 28 (“Patient mortality”) letter said of elderly Foggy Bottom residents, “These individuals should be politely ignored for the next decade, as more and more of them relocate to cemeteries.” This opinion in no way had anything to do with Reiling because he did not author it – Joseph did.
The Hatchet offers its sincere apologies for unknowingly misleading our readers and for any harm arising from this unfortunate practical joke. We take full responsibility for the error, placing a higher emphasis on accountability, rather than passing the blame to someone else, which is an all too common practice these days.
At The Hatchet, ethical concerns in journalism are placed above all others, which is why we are admitting our mistake in letting this erroneous letter slip through the cracks and doing something about it. Starting with the April 8 issue, all columns and letters submitted to the opinions editor must carry the phone number where the author can be reached, in addition to the normal requirement of name, title and year in school.
We will use the phone numbers only to verify the sender of a letter and ask that our readers accept this minor inconvenience to ensure the opinions you read are attributed correctly.
We anticipate the policy change will help prevent future false letters by providing the GW community with a bolstered level of accuracy.
Joseph has since admitted remorse and guilt in the matter.
Verifying each individual submission under the old way was easier but will not suffice to ensure people are not given credit for opinions that are not theirs.
We encourage you to continue writing letters and making this an open community of shared thoughts and opinions.
-The writer, a senior majoring
in business economics and public policy, is Hatchet opinions editor.