In last week's issue, The Lamron published the names of several students who were ticketed or arrested by the village police for a variety of offenses.
Although the information printed is, in fact, public and a standard course of practice for most local newspapers, it's something that this paper has not done in recent memory.
Many students have called the decision to do this one of poor taste, and their reasoning has merit. All of us are astutely aware of how embarrassing it is to be publicly called out for an infraction, especially in print. We also know that receiving a ticket or being arrested does not necessarily imply guilt, and that incident reports do not always reveal the truth of a situation.
The principal reason I support the use of specific names in "The Monitor" is that it will get a large number of people reading and talking about The Lamron. Any other stated justification would be ridiculous - I would be lying, and you would know it.
Every week I fill up four pages with news articles, and sometimes they celebrate innovative events and programs, brilliant faculty, motivated students and smart administrators who deal with complex and frustrating problems every day. Other times, they highlight miscommunications, missed opportunities and mistakes.
Mistakes. We get upset and defend those shown in a negative spotlight because we've all made misguided or stupid decisions, and it's not fair that some people get caught while others don't. It works like this: you either live with the consequences of your actions, or you don't make the decision in the first place.
I would think - and hope - that the 5,000 or so adults that take classes at this college understand that committing a crime doesn't make one a bad person. It makes you a person that is being held accountable for willingly breaking a law.
One particularly frustrated student asked me and several other editors whether we would publish the name of a Lamron staff member should it appear in a police press report. The answer is yes, and I'll throw some credibility to that by sharing that a residence director has confronted me about my use of racially offensive language to describe another student.
In a separate incident, I was placed on probation for a semester by the Office of Judicial Affairs for violating the portion of the Student Code of Conduct that prohibits "obscene, indecent or grossly inconsiderate behavior, exposure of others to highly offensive conditions, disregard for the privacy of self or others."
This embarrasses me, and I know I am still not perfect. I am a smart, friendly accounting major who writes pretty good news articles and has a knack for coming up with corny Lamron headlines like "Find a salon where you belong."
The point is that you can't and shouldn't hide from your mistakes or failures. People have short memories, time tends to soften both wounds and blame and the paper comes out every Thursday with new news - good and bad.
Cursing the cops, the administration or the district attorney will do little good in the long run, but sincere reflection and a commitment to not repeating mistakes is meaningful and usually speaks a lot more to a person's character than whatever it was they did to begin with.
The Lamron is a student newspaper, but it is not a newspaper that agrees with and supports students indiscriminately. I believe that if you do something wrong, you should be held accountable for what you have done, whether that be parking in the wrong spot or endangering somebody's life. It's not always fair, but it's the way it has to be to maintain the community and college standards that make this a decent place to live and learn - for that is indeed what we do.