We’re now three weeks into the school year, and three issues of the Review have gone to print. The Review staff is working diligently to cover more hard-hitting stories this year. And, while Linfield isn’t exactly known for supplying riveting story ideas, a few gems do pop up now and then.
Last week, several editors caught wind of a rumor circulating around campus. The hearsay involved a former ASLC Cabinet member who had supposedly misappropriated several thousand dollars of student body fees.
The reporter who pursued the lead was under the impression that the rumor was based in truth, as he had heard it from current and former ASLC officers. Despite this assumption, however, he also knew that he might encounter resistance because of the touchy subject and the sometimes secretive nature of the college.
The Review has always had a difficult time collecting sensitive material, which is not helped by the fact that Linfield is a private institution. This means that, other than certain federal requirements, the college isn’t obligated to release any information that may be considered detrimental to its image.
As it turned out, the ASLC didn’t seem to appreciate the Review mentioning the possibility of indiscretion, which comes as no surprise.
However, both ASLC President Ashlee Carter and ASLC Vice President of Business and Finance Chris McIsaac were willing to speak to the reporter about the matter. This meeting revealed nothing, and the rumor was declared false.
That in itself is not the issue at hand; the Review does receive false tips from time to time.
ASLC Cabinet reactions to this questioning is another story.
In an e-mail response from McIsaac in the story’s beginning stages, he wrote: “I am sorry to let you know, but there was no money stolen by last year’s Cabinet. They used the money from their club funds and also from Activities Council. The only issue was a minor one in which they were supposed to have a chaperone on the event since it was overnight. I am the only one (other than those cabinet members) to know this to be true, so the rumors you are hearing are false. I have complete control over the money that flows in and out of the student body and can verify that this did not happen.”
Again, there was no problem with what he said; that’s why the Review investigates leads before it prints stories that are untrue.
What followed in the e-mail, though, was a different matter: “I highly suggest you do not blow this out of proportion. It occurred last year and there is no reason to create new issues over a previous relationship between ASLC Cabinet and The Linfield Review. This year’s ASLC Cabinet wants to promote healthy relationships between all of its organizations, especially within the media services.”
ASLC Vice President Chris Norman even spoke with the reporter personally, asking him to reconsider writing the story in defense of the suspected Cabinet member’s future career aspirations.
Is it too much of a stretch to think that, if this incident had actually occurred, students would want to know about it, especially because it would involve their money?
While some may disagree, we at the Review aren’t ones to intentionally blow things out of proportion, even if the paper and ASLC haven’t always had the most cordial relationship in the past.
We are here to report on goings-on at Linfield, and this supposed event could have been real news. It’s not our prerogative to drop stories just because reporting them might cast a negative light on ASLC or the college.
We are not a public relations service; newspapers are known as “The Fourth Estate” for a reason. And, while we can’t always discover the answers regarding those hard news stories, it doesn’t mean we won’t try.
It’s funny how we are always asked to cover the small events, but shame on us if we report on a possible case of embezzlement.
If that’s not a double standard, we don’t know what is.
-The Review Editorial Board