By Kristen Griffith, The Whetstone
The town hall meeting held March 22 was the second time President Robert Clark allowed students to share their opinions and concerns.
I appreciated the fact that the president gave students the opportunity to give their input, as he did for seniors when they were upset with the rescheduling of graduation. It shows he cares about the students and wants to fix Wesley’s flaws.
But I walked away from the meeting frustrated and annoyed from his comments.
At the meeting, students also complained about the registrar, event planning and communication. Yet Clark chose several occasions to turn responses to other student concerns into a critique of The Whetstone.
“The Whetstone has had some really good articles, but there’s also been some really bad articles,” he said, without mentioning specifically which of the articles were “bad.”
This comment came after a student shared his opinion about the registrar asking for high school transcripts.
I have heard the president make statements like this before, but never in front of an audience.
When Clark personally told me an article was “bad,” he was referring to the story in November’s issue, “Security Accused of Acting Unprofessionally.” The reason for his criticism was, “I don’t like surprises.”
Clark’s comments about The Whetstone lasted between two to four minutes, during the hour and 40-minute meeting.
The president said that many faculty and staff don’t speak to the newspaper because they say they have been misquoted in the past. I have worked on The Whetstone since 2014 and have yet to receive a complaint about a misquotation. If a source is ever misquoted, a correction will be made online and in the next issue of the paper.
There were two different times when Clark referred to an interview with a student from this semester’s journalism class who was speaking with him during her attempt to write about the salaries of Wesley’s highest earners. During the reenactment of their conversation, he told us that he had asked her why she was doing the story, and if she was even interested in the story.
He said she told him it was an assignment from class and that she was personally uninterested in the topic.
Clark then told us that students should not write about topics that don’t interest them.
I automatically thought of the hours of hard work I spent on uninteresting assignments I did for classes, for the sake of my credit requirements and GPA.
Clark ridiculed the idea that Wesley’s top-paid staff would capture reader’s attention.
I raised my hand and explained how the same story was done a year ago, and students liked comparing staff members’ salaries to their effectiveness on campus.
I remember a student telling me how that story should have been on the front page.
“Are students actually interested in Wesley finances?” Clark asked.
A few students told him they were.
The amount of times the president spoke negatively about The Whetstone was enough for students to turn and stare at me in disbelief. Some seemed as shocked as I was. A classmate even texted me, “He’s really coming for The Whetstone.”
The Whetstone is Wesley’s main source of news on campus, and strives to keep students as updated as possible. It is something I am very passionate about and put hours of hard work into.
As an editor, I am always open to constructive criticism and feedback from faculty, staff and administration, but not a public reproach during an event dedicated to students.