Letter to the Editor: April 22, 2010

Letter to the Editor Opinion

To whom it may concern:

In response to the April 15, 2010 issue of Griffon News Editorial.

In the recent election (opportunity to vote) much like elections in the community at-large; the votes of a few determined the outcome for everyone. Why? Was it student lack of interest? Or is there a larger question at hand? I found it interesting that you quoted Abbie Hoffman “Democracy is not something you believe in or a place to hang your hat, but it’s something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it democracy crumbles.” Considering that quote, perhaps it is the lack of interest by those students that could vote on these issues. I think we should look more to the example set by John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” The Students ought to get involved.

Meetings are held every Monday to debate and formulate solutions to issues such as the technology and recycling program. I’ve got news for you, the doors have always been open to the students to watch and even participate. In the community at-large the newspapers and television stations do much to disseminate information on issues. Where was the Griffon News? When and where were the articles and coverage of positions published? I wasn’t interviewed. Where was the news room staff during the debate? I didn’t see any of you trying to get the vote out on Election Day. Are SGA officers supposed to go door to door begging students to take an interest and vote? What is the mission of the campus media? Must the SGA beg the Griffon News to cover the issues?

Just as happens in most communities, the votes of a few have decided an issue. Perhaps the outcome actually represents the opinion of the majority since the economy is so poor. However, can we accurately make this claim since only a fraction of the students voted? What scientific methodology did the Griffon News staff use to confirm that the fee would have passed if only SGA officers had been more “prepared”? Did the Griffon News effectively inform the public? Let me offer my solution to the issue; let’s create a better relationship between the SGA and the Griffon News. Let’s embrace a cooperative effort to achieve positive outcomes and refrain from deceptive discourse.

Thanks for your commentary and support,
Jacob Scott
Parliamentarian & Student Senator
Student Government Association

Staff Response

Jacob Scott

Thank you for submitting a letter in response to the April 15 editorial. The Griffon News respects your position and obvious disagreement and we appreciate your pro-addictiveness in student politics.

The fact is though, Jacob, that not all students are as willing to engage themselves as you are. Students either don’t have the time or interest in the issues to get involved. This is where the Student Government Association plays one of its major roles. The SGA, spear headed by the president, are solely responsible for educating the public on any issues they wish to pass. This is called a direct line of communication—which has been lacking all this year.

As far as The Griffon News’ duty to the public, three stories were published on the proposal (Feburary 5, March 5, and April 2, which can also be found online). The final story’s headline read “Western students vote on technology recycling fee April 7th-9th.” It was the most detailed, describing how much the fee would cost and the provisions that the proposal called for. The article mentions Gordon Mapely, the Dean of Western Institute, who helped co-author the proposal, stating why the technology fee is needed. No doubt, the fee had support from the administration, especially in this current economic climate, but the administration is not enough to convince students why the proposal was important.

The Griffon News can only educate the public so much; at the end of the voting day only the SGA can be blamed for a failed vote. A failed vote can occur for several reasons, but it is the opinion of The Griffon News that the major contributing factor was the lack of communication from senior members of SGA to the public and in some places even within the SGA.

Government should never rely on newspapers to be their direct line of communication with the people they represent. As mentioned in the editorial, a public forum directed and advertised toward students to ask questions and respond to the fee would have been an appropriate response to opening the communications channels between SGA and the students. Senate meetings are held for senators and are not primarily for students to voice their opinion.

The Griffon News never attempted to speculate how the voters would have voted if SGA had been more pro-active in their communication. It is logical to conclude though, had SGA been more prepared (held more forums, prevent political divide among the senate, educate the students, and open the lines of communication between students and SGA) then voter turnout would have been higher than roughly 10 percent.

In response to your final sentence, The Griffon News and SGA have a healthy relationship as is proven with the coverage of the Technology and Recycling fee. Jacob, the issue though isn’t the relationship between The Griffon News and SGA, but instead SGA and the public.

The Griffon News will always “refrain from deceptive discourse” but to be clear, The Griffon News is not a propaganda tool for the SGA. The Griffon News in a student outlet and open forum for everyone on campus. The Griffon News will not “embrace a cooperative effort to achieve positive outcomes,” because that is not our duty to Western. It is instead, SGA’s duty to convince both the students and The Griffon News that your positive outcomes are indeed positive.

Once again, thank you for responding to The Griffon News editorial. We encourage every student to speak their mind.
Respectively
The Griffon New Staff

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