Lack of professionalism
As someone who has written to The Hatchet in protest of the publishing of student corpse photos, I would like to propose that freshman Zej Moczydlowski – who wrote in support of “photography” in the April 22 Hatchet (“Defending photographers,” p. 4) – does not fully understand the ethics of professional journalism or the nature of the complaints against the photos in question.
The Hatchet is a newspaper for the students of GW and, as such, should serve as a venue for a range of student opinions. If there is a portion of the student population that objects to some content in the newspaper that is marketed to them and that they keep in business by providing the advertisers with a select demographic, then it makes sense that their viewpoint should be heard.
Because an opinion is not in agreement with The Hatchet staff does not mean it is invalid. As Moczydlowski explains, “A newspaper that only covers optimistic news is not doing its job and is showing readers a twisted and untrue version of the world.” Correct. And a newspaper that brushes off dissenting opinion and only accepts praise is “showing readers a twisted and untrue version of the world.”
Furthermore, it is obscene to justify using a photo of a dead student simply because someone on The Hatchet staff also passed away. Perhaps The Hatchet is in a unique position, but it should not be exploiting false empathy in order to defend questionable material. Had the paper been in possession of a similar photo of Jennifer Dierdorff (to that of Philip Augustin), there is no way it would have been used – as well it should not have been. That seems rather inconsiderate, does it not? I do not believe a Hatchet photographer rushed to the scene, camera in hand, for that particular incident. Why, in that case, did The Hatchet not try to “ensure proper coverage of the tragic occurrences?” I am not trying to be antagonistic, but merely point out the hypocrisy in these statements.
Overcoming tragedy does not mean The Hatchet has carte blanche when it comes to the reporting of other such tragedies. For someone preaching to be an advocate of reporting news in a “professional manner,” Moczydlowski awkwardly ends his rant by discounting those who “spend their time outside of J Street gathering petitions for some cause that no one really cares about.” It is good to see professionalism is alive and well down at that townhouse on G Street.
–David Angelo, junior
With recent studies showing a dramatic increase in stress, substance abuse and suicide incidents at universities, GW must upgrade its counseling system. Instead, the University has chosen to feature free ice cream and smoothie days as part of its Stress Free Week. While these events are fun and enjoyed by all, a little sugar does not help anyone dealing with moderate to severe depression or bordering on potential suicide.
In the beginning of the year I tried to make a couple appointments with the Counseling Center but had to cancel them in advance because they conflicted with my class schedule. Rather than trying to help me work around my schedule, I was told that I would not be able to come to the center if I canceled another appointment.
With hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., it is difficult for many students to make an appointment due to class and work schedules. In reality, stressful or difficult events do not happen on a 9-5, Monday-through-Friday basis. So the Counseling Center suggests calling University Police or talking to your community facilitator if you need help during non-business hours. Are UPD officers or CFs qualified mental health professionals? In my experience, the Counseling Center can provide appointments in one to two weeks. The Center also provides virtually no outreach to its students, with many students unaware that such a center even exists.
What GW really needs is a reliable 24-hour crisis hotline, an adequate staff that can provide more appointments and an expanded office schedule. Another Starbucks is not going to prevent any suicides, but maybe a better Counseling Center will.
–Alison Devenny, freshman
In an April 19 staff editorial (“Continue being open,” p. 4), The Hatchet argued that the University should consider other ways to inform the community by “further utilizing the GW info e-mail system – or develop new delivery systems – to alert students of important information the University is making available.” While mass e-mails are useful in select cases, because of the volume of e-mails that delay the process, it is not always the best communication tool.
GW’s Campus Advisories Web site – www.gwu.edu/~gwalert – stands as the primary vehicle for sharing immediate information regarding events, public safety and emergency management. This 24-hour information source includes information about the University’s status and “Latest News,” including the University’s statements on water testing and resources and information about the World Bank/IMF/Women’s Rights March demonstrations. Campus Advisories is an unmatched resource among D.C.-area colleges.
If an advisory calls for the immediate attention of the GW community, the University will deploy its Web Alert System through flashing banners on the GW News Center, GWeb Portal and GWired. For those without computers, GW provides hard copies of select advisories to vice presidents, deans and others to share with their students and employees.
Community members have another option – to voluntarily subscribe to e-mail messages from www.GWNewsCenter.org, which provides the latest news, events and advisories weekly and when events warrant.
GW has these tools in place to keep its community informed. Community members also must be engaged to visit Campus Advisories or sign up for e-mails and integrate this information into their campus lives.
–Chris M. Kormis
executive director, Office of University Relations
Violence against women is a public health problem. It can be prevented, but only if communities are willing to recognize it and discuss the issue. As the most circulated and read student newspaper, it is The Hatchet’s responsibility to bring more attention to the facts and frequency of rape on this campus, as well as ways to prevent sexual assault from occurring. Ninety percent of all rapes are premeditated; among those numbers, more than 80 percent of rapes are date or acquaintance rapes. Among college students that number rises to 90 percent. As a student population, we owe it to one another to make sure this campus is a safe haven for victims, where they feel comfortable to come forward as well as let aggressors know that their behavior will not stand.
Almost half of all rapes go unreported. Many women keep their devastating experience a secret for various reasons, including shame, confusion and embarrassment. As the statistics above show, most rapes are committed by someone the woman knows, therefore further complicating the situation for the victim. Although GW does offer counseling, it is not well publicized, and most women don’t know where to go for help. The environment on campus is not conducive for women to feel safe when coming forward with their account, and this needs to change. The Hatchet needs to publicize more literature concerning where women can go to seek help. Every week there are reports in the crime log of assaults on campus against women. This is a prevalent issue that more students need to be educated about. It is up to The Hatchet, as the student newspaper and voice, to raise campus consciousness about the college rape epidemic.
Hopefully, The Hatchet will take this letter into consideration the next time this subject is being addressed in the newspaper. The position The Hatchet holds as the major media resource on campus gives it the power to create a supportive atmosphere for victims instead of one condoning rape culture.
–Jacqueline Wezwick, junior
This article appeared in the April 26, 2004 issue of the Hatchet.