To the Editor,
I write to commend you and your staff for your reporting on President Newman’s plan to expel freshmen deemed unlikely to survive until graduation. I offer no opinion on the wisdom of this as a strategy for running a college. Maybe it is a good idea; maybe it isn’t.
What has impressed me is the strength and and accuracy of the Echo’s reporting, and how the paper’s editors have handled the difficult task of writing about people you’re paying lots of money to for an education and degree. The leaked emails, in which Mr. Newman writes that his “short term goal is to have 20-25 people leave by the 25th [of Sep.]” are crucial to this debate now, rightly, made public. And while it certainly does not indicate any truly violent or weird intentions, the quote comparing struggling freshmen to bunnies to be drowned or shot with Glocks is indicative of Mr. Newman’s leadership style and tone. Maybe this is refreshingly clear, blunt language that academia could use more of; maybe it isn’t. Both questions seem crucial in local and national debates over where our massively high-priced education system is headed.
The onus is not on the newspaper to explain or defend. The paper does need to be accurate, offer all sides a chance to comment, and relate its facts in clear language, and you have done that. Yes, the result is sometimes messy and people get upset that words they thought private are now public. That is the price to pay for authority and power in a country with a free press — ask Hillary Clinton about emails — which this country guarantees thanks to the First Amendment. Officials in Cuba and North Korea don’t have to worry about getting their emails leaked. Is that what we want?
So we seek and when we find we publish, and sometimes we annoy, but if we’re accurate and fair, the result is that the governments, institutions, companies and people we cover are made to hold themselves to higher standards of character, clarity and honesty, to the benefit of society. It is a righteous and useful mission.
Already, Mr. Newman has published several letters, including one in the Washington Post, clarifying his plans and his argument.
John W. Miller, Staff Reporter, Wall Street Journal
MSM Class ’99, Mountain Echo Editor-in-Chief, 1997-1999