Home Opinion Letters to the Editor LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Grad student senate disagrees with TNP coverage

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Grad student senate disagrees with TNP coverage

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Letter to the Editor

This Letter to the Editor was sent by Graduate Student Senate President Maria Modayil in response to The New Political’s coverage of its legislative body.

Dear Editor Tenbarge,

To preface this letter, the Graduate Student Senate has an unrelenting commitment to the presence of a free and independent press in our country and around the world. The press, in all of its forms, is an essential part of democratic governments around the world, and helps to create a spotlight that keeps government officials and organizations accountable for their actions. As a result of this immense responsibility to the public, media organizations must maintain the highest journalistic ethics and standards to remain an unbiased and effective communication medium.

In the age of digital dissemination of news, published stories in local media outlets can, and do, quickly reach far beyond the boundaries of the immediate readership. The national, and even international reach that some stories may attain means that even further care must be taken to ensure complete accuracy in reporting.

The guiding principles of The New Political state:

“Our guiding principle is accuracy, and we take special care to ensure that the work we publish stems from facts and figures. We never want our readers to question the truth behind our stories.”

The Graduate Student Senate feels that accuracy in reporting of official senate business is of utmost importance, and has a direct impact on our ability to effectively fulfill our advocacy mission. The university administration, students and alumni see reports in The New Political, and use them to keep up-to-date on efforts that are ongoing within the senate.

As a result of Resolution 1718-10, we are writing to you with concerns regarding recent coverage of official Graduate Student Senate business. An article published by The New Political, which covered the September 12, 2017 meeting of the general body suggested that one of the key actions was a discussion regarding unionization of graduate students. No discussion of unionization at OU took place during that meeting. The only use of the word “union” was contained within a question to President Nellis highlighting the unionization of graduate students at his alma mater. It has always been the understanding of the Graduate Student Senate, and the Graduate Employee Organization, that unionization is not possible under the current Ohio Revised Code.

A subsequent article published on October 4, 2017 was titled “Myth Busted: Graduate Student Senate is not and never was unionizing”. If any myth did exist, it was created by previous inadequate reporting of The New Political. Further, this article was linked on The New Political social media accounts with the following lead sentences:

  • Twitter: “The Graduate Student Senate will not be unionizing, and it seems like the law was against them the whole time.”
  • Facebook: “The Graduate Student Senate takes the loss on this one.”

These statements are sensationalistic, inaccurate and misinformed. They suggest that the Graduate Student Senate had officially considered unionization, and subsequently learned of the Ohio Revised Code statute that prevents graduate students from unionizing. This is an inaccurate timeline, and ultimately false reporting.

These reports have real impacts on the relationship between the senate, constituents and the university administration. A conversation following meetings with our senate executives could avoid this situation in the future. We do not take these inaccuracies lightly, and strongly urge that extra care is taken to ensure the accuracy of all future reports of official business. Your work reflects upon not only your organization, but also the reputation of Ohio University and the nationally recognized Scripps School of Journalism.

Sincerely,

The Graduate Student Senate

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