SGA article storm

April 23, 2008

Last week The Tech Talk became a reluctant participant in a clash with the Student Government Association.

The incident stemmed from an article titled “SGA candidates’ eligibility called into question” published on The Tech Talk Web site, thetechtalk.org.

Within the article, The Tech Talk cited evidence in which Nadia Hart, an SGA secretarial candidate, and Cole Napper, an SGA presidential candidate, were accused of not completing office hour requirements needed for their positions. A reporter, Meredith Maines, conducted interviews with Napper; Sam Speed, assistant dean of student life; and Allison Reynolds, an SGA vice presidential candidate. The article also included a Facebook.com message written by Napper in which he initially addressed the eligibility issue.

Following the posting of the article to The Tech Talk Web site, comments were posted by several site visitors.

While there were various viewpoints in the comments, an overwhelming consistency emerged.

Though a number of individuals were glad to know The Tech Talk was informing its audience about extenuating concerns surrounding the upcoming election, a number of SGA members took to leaving scathing comments condemning Maines, The Tech Talk and the journalism department.

For example, Brian Abrams, SGA director of student affairs, was most critical.

“This article is comprised of about five percent fact,” Abrams said in the Web site comment. “The article targeted two hard working individuals in SGA, ground their names through the mud and had no quotes from them to defend themselves, created a false and childish to say the least conspiracy theory, undermined the integrity and leadership of SGA and the two young ladies targeted. This is what the writer and The Tech Talk did to our organization, doing so with the side of one person and no facts.”

The truth of the matter remains that The Tech Talk was just doing its job as the student voice of Tech in presenting the facts to readers without bias and letting the reader decide how to feel in regard to the issue. There was no conspiracy theory undertaken by The Tech Talk.

It is not reasonable to attack Maines for doing her job in writing a story to which she was assigned. The story was in no way an attack on SGA nor its members. The story was rather a presentation of facts which The Tech Talk decided were important for voters to know prior to casting their ballots.

The Tech Talk strives to report just the facts. It is not responsible to state the opinions of The Tech Talk or individual reporters unless it is presented on the editorial page of each publication.

When an instance occurs where The Tech Talk makes a mistake as in the case of last week’s article, “Canoe contestants concrete spot in nationals,” in which an error was made on our part, The Tech Talk will admit error and immediately print a retraction.

In the case of the SGA article, no mistake has been made by The Tech Talk.

Several times in phone calls and comments on the Web site, SGA members said The Tech Talk’s facts were untruthful. When asked what information was incorrect, members were not forthcoming with details nor has any information to dismiss facts The Tech Talk been obtained. The best The Tech Talk was able to muster was one member saying, “It’s just wrong.”

To further agitate the matter, an anonymous source phoned The Tech Talk office Wednesday afternoon to say SGA was withholding election results until the “controversy” died down.

This news did not punish The Tech Talk but rather the student body, which has a right to know results of government elections.