Published on May 5th, 2012 | by mfrancese5
The Legacy stands by stories
Natasha Sakovich | Editor-in-Chief
A rumor has been circulating that The Legacy will be printing a retraction stating that the ACB articles were all lies and we take them back. This is not the case. We stand by our stories, and no retraction will be made.
Bullying is a serious issue which The Legacy has continued to report on during the last few editions as an advocate and voice for the students. The stories we’ve chosen to report are done so not by “our own agenda” or out of a dislike towards any group on campus. Rather, our stories are written based on the concerns of the students and the need to see changes made on campus for the safety and well-being of all.
On Tuesday, April 24, President Evans released a statement entitled “Official Assessment on the Conversation and Debate on A Cross Between (ACB)” to all faculty and students. In the beginning of the email, President Evans said, “This is the first and only public statement of our official position on this matter.”
However, the Lindenwood Twitter statement released from the university’s official account said otherwise. On Thursday, March 22, Lindenwood’s official Twitter released, “The Lindenwood Legacy is a learning tool. We are aware of Student Activities and Kerry Cox. We believe the ACB article has no substance.”
The email also adds a note later on stating, “The response that our PR Office uploaded to Twitter was not an official position. We will not normally issue an official statement when we are just part way through an investigation, and we will almost never use Twitter to do so. We view Twitter as an important channel for maintaining ongoing and open communication with our students, but its format is too compressed for the proper and effective publication of the University’s position on issues as important as those being addressed here. If we ever make an exception to the latter statement, we will use the word ‘official’ in the tweet.”
If this statement is true, then why respond on Twitter at all? If the investigation was “just part way through,” it is not right to release such a conclusive Tweet that states the “article has no substance.” As much as some would like to believe that Twitter is not an “official medium” for anything other than gossip, this is not a reality in today’s media-centered world. If a statement is released from Lindenwood’s Twitter account, it IS the official position of the university. If Twitter is just a medium for gossip and conversation, why add to the conversation by tweeting out an “unofficial” statement that sounds as conclusive as you can get?
In addition, the email addresses how several ACB students have reported incidents of bullying as a result of these articles, but the email barely mentions the allegations of bullying by ACB towards the several dozen students who were interviewed by The Legacy, left their comments on Lindenlink or who have come to administrators about their own experiences. Evans’ statement mentions that “any information that was anonymously or indirectly transmitted was discarded as unverifiable input.” If this is the case, anonymous comments supporting ACB must also be considered as unverifiable input. Was this the case? Are the ACB reported complaints of bullying considered valid because they did so in person with administrators?
In light of this, it seems necessary to reiterate that some of the sources used were anonymous because they are AFRAID. Likewise, sources may wish to remain anonymous on Lindenlink for the same reason. This use of anonymous sources is not an oversight or misjudgment on The Legacy’s part but rather our respect of the sources’ requests that their names not be used due to their fear. For these same reasons, students wanting to come forward with reports of bullying by ACB may not do so in person. We also did not write the second article “to remedy some of the formal problems with the first article…published a second article that identified their sources and made other corrections of fact and clarifications.” Sources were named in the second story because THEY wished to use their names, as they stated they were not as afraid since our first article brought the issue to light.
We also understood the sources’ wishes to remain anonymous about their reported experiences, as The Legacy has undergone this same bullying from various individuals within ACB. I do not say this as an invocation of pity, but I state our own experiences below so that students and faculty alike can see why we did not just dismiss these reported incidents of bullying as “hearsay” or not enough of a “major credible complaint.” We have had a reporter’s computer hacked, and after an investigation by Apple, the only file that was hacked was her “Legacy” file.
In addition, the day that the first article was released, the son of a prominent IT staff member, who is also a member of ACB, came into our office to “clean the computers.” Upon seeing me notice him at the ACB table in the cafeteria later that day, he screamed “F***,” and tried to duck down under the table. Why would you hide if you were just “cleaning the computers,” as you were “sent to do so from computer services”? In the four years I’ve worked in this office, we’ve never had anyone come to clean our computers with little Lysol wipes. They give that to us to do ourselves. These are just two of the examples of harassment and intimidation we’ve received as a result of these articles. It saddens me to see that nowhere in the email were these reports mentioned.
Further, the email reads, “The original (March 21) Legacy article addressing Lindenwood’s ACB chapter caught us (the Lindenwood administration) by surprise because we had not received any prominent or major credible complaints about the organization since its inception.” From The Legacy’s investigation, students and even faculty have stated that they gave administrators written, as well as verbal, reports of experiences of harassment and bullying by individuals within the organization. If this is the case, then the above statement is grave indeed for the safety of the students. Further, what defines a “major credible complaint”? Does a student have to be physically bleeding and bruised for a complaint about bullying to be credible?
The email also mentions that Lindenwood says they investigated the matter but found no wrongdoing. “We wish to make it clear from the outset that our investigation of this matter revealed nothing that would justify affixing blame or an assertion of intentional wrongdoing to any of the principals cited or involved in the conversation.” I urge those involved in this stated investigation to look further.
In closing, myself and the rest of The Legacy staff are not saying that ACB is a bad organization or that all members have been involved in these reported incidents. ACB does many good things for the campus and students, and there are many members who are great people with good intentions. However, the several dozen reports of bullying, harassment and intimidation by the group were something we needed to do as an advocate for the students. In addition, we’ve had countless students, as well as faculty, personally thank us for writing these articles which have “needed to be done for many years now.” I understand that they may not come to administration because they just want to keep their head above water and their job, and I completely understand. However, they are coming to us, and that needs to be known.
I leave you, our reader, with this final thought from Dr. Franklin McCallie, former Kirkwood high school principal, regarding bullying as stated in a recent edition of the Charles Jaco Report on Fox 2 News.
“If even one kid in your school is bullied, and you don’t handle it, you’ve got an unsafe school.”