Hi my name is Allison, and I’m a recovering columnist.
Although there is no 12 step program for leaving a newspaper, there is a story, and since writing it in the paper would be a catch-22, I have decided to detail my most recent shocking behavior. After receiving numerous questions about my decision to stop writing at the Independent Collegian after three years, I figured this was the easiest way to reach the largest amount of people possible, because I am too disheartened to continuously repeat the story.
When I was a sophomore, young and bright eyed, excited about my future and all my potential, I thought I could change the world. I’ve been through plenty of strange things in my life, and always felt like there was a larger purpose for me. I wanted to take what I had seen, and apply it to help others. I found myself drawn to political activists on campus, and let them direct me from there. Active students on campus have always been more than willing to try and get other students involved, and they were happy to offer advice. One former student said to me ‘the best way to make change is to get in a position of power. The most powerful person on UT’s campus is the Editor of the Independent Collegian, because they decide what everyone else reads’. I signed up at the IC that week, because I thought that the best way to make my voice heard was to have it distributed to the whole student body.
Just a few months after I started with the IC, I was asked to meet with the dean of students and vice president of student affairs, about concerns I had voiced while writing. I finally had my voice, but I found you can’t force other people to listen. Over the years I learned the ins and outs of the administration, the rules of student organizations, how the student body reacted to news, how public relations fits into news organizations, how the internet is a marketing tool and a place for anonymous gossip. I pushed every envelope I could, I questions every decision I didn’t understand, I called out the people who had their asses kissed by everyone else. Although the people who know me personally know that much of what I write is entertainment, they also know that above all other things, honesty and fairness are what matters most to me. My religious beliefs have a lot to do with my sense of justice and equality, and although I don’t claim to be holier than thou, I do believe that what I was doing was for a greater good.
But after three years, I’ve been beaten down by hatred, opposition, lies, corruption, and greed. I don’t blame specific people, I blame the system. The behavior by student leaders, our own independent media, and our administrators is a giant charade, where money and numbers rule, instead of ethics and morals. I made attempts to infiltrate the system when I saw an opportunity. I attempted to run for student government, after seeing the irresponsible wasting of student money, and the fake promises from it’s leaders who attend school for free and get a living stipend. After 8 months of work, $3,000 of our own money, and losing to some one who was caught cheating, I felt jaded. I kept up everything else I was working on, and moved forward in my life. I accepted defeat, and blamed myself for not being able to outsmart the system. However, I always thought what was truly right would win out in the end.
Several months ago, my friend Mark Carter told me he was planning on running for student government President, and asked about my campaign. I bluntly told him that anyone who would run was crazy, he was going to ruin his life, and that without being greek there was no way for him to win. All things I had heard myself when I was the same age as him. I advised him occasionally from a distance, and for the most part, continued on with my life that since losing, was pretty far removed from Student Government.
You can read about why I took up activism in the student government elections again this year right
I do not want to get into details again about the plagiarism that occurred, or the fact that I’ve been continuously personally attacked and threatened by people involved. This itself is tragic and frustrating enough. The reason I felt that journalism ethics have been thrown away by the staff of the IC, is that on the same day my column ran, the staff of the IC endorsed the same candidates that had blatantly lied and stolen. When I found this out, I asked the new editor in chief for an explanation for how a newspaper could support such acts. He had no answer for that, but insisted that their journalist integrity was not compromised, and that I had apparently forgotten that the IC had been covering all of the achievements and blunders of SG in the past, and would continue to do so.
As though that weren’t enough, the staff of the IC went on in their endorsement to attack the other candidates based upon their personalities and supposed tempers. Anyone who has worked with any of the candidates would have disagreed with most of what was written in the paper, and students showed their disgust on the IC website. As I told the IC editor in chief, it had nothing to do with who wasn’t endorsed, there is a horrible problem if a news source is unable to take time to research candidates before supporting them. After feeling like I was screaming “the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes!” all week, I felt helpless. The endorsed candidates that had lied, cheated, and stole, had won the election. There were issues with students not being able to vote, or students voting twice, and suspicious behavior against campaigns by other candidates. There were even people in UT administration getting involved in the election, and attempting to get candidates thrown out based on rumors.
The system is broken. Students aren’t actually being represented, money is being thrown around like confetti, and real news was being ignored. How could I go on writing for the IC, if I didn’t feel like I could trust it myself? I resigned Sunday night after days of arguing with myself, but in the end I felt like I had already severed myself from the paper.
So I invite those interested in keeping up to date with whats going on in Toledo to seek truth, not propaganda. I’m turning my full attention to the new website we are launching at the UT student radio station 88.3 FM WXUT, and I intend on helping our station become a cornerstone of UT. Students need a resource for information that isn’t fed to them by administration, or lazy journalists, and the administration needs a way to see what students care about without corruption or ass kissing. It’s with mixed emotions, sadness and excitement, disappointment and anticipation, and just a touch of rebelliousness that I am moving forward in my ever changed quest for a better life for Toledo.
Thank you to all who have followed me, and you can continue to read what I have to say here on my wordpress blog, and soon at our new station website.