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First Impressions of Record Coverage of Safety Dance

A week and 2 days after its release, the lawsuit filed against Williams for botching a Title IX case (and violating FERPA, Mass. Privacy Act, etc.) has finally found its space on the Record.

First impressions/issues:

1. Why does the reporter keep using the word “allegedly” to describe materially factual events? For example:

After this event, Smith allegedly emailed former Dean of the College Sarah Bolton, stating that she had written essays for Doe in violation of the College’s Honor Code.

This is not an allegation. This is a material fact that is founded on material evidence, i.e. the actual email. So either there is confusion about the definition of the word “allegedly” or this is sloppy reporting.

2. The only contribution this coverage yields are neutered quotes from the college, but alas, we can only go to war with the army we have. Notably, Dean Sandstrom is quoted saying “Williams is committed to the safety of all its students.” This is logically equivalent to when someone says “I’m not a/an____…” and then later follows with an inevitable “but…” One example that comes to mind (first pointed out by Professor Michael Lewis earlier this year in the Record) is President Falk when he said, in an all campus email, “Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard” and following with his inevitable “but” of disinviting speakers. Draw your own conclusions, but I see a pattern.

3. Why did it take 9 days from the release of the lawsuit for this to be published if all we get is an “alleged” summary of “alleged” events?

Either way, the article is suggestive of a first in many, since it leaves many crucial questions unanswered, so hopefully, we can anticipate that more substantive reporting will follow.

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Comments Disabled To "First Impressions of Record Coverage of Safety Dance"

#1 Comment By anon On December 7, 2016 @ 1:01 pm

DDF, are you aware that a new staff is coming in?

#2 Comment By Williams Alum On December 7, 2016 @ 2:09 pm

wtt –

Are you actually class of ’17? If so, I would hope you could answer three on your own. It took 9 days because this was the first Record issue published since the suit was filed.

One seems like a petty point.

WA

#3 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On December 7, 2016 @ 3:20 pm

1) Thanks for joining EphBlog! We need more student writers.

2) Please provide more coverage of this (and other) topic(s). There is so much good material in the complaint and exhibits!

3) I agree that the use of “allegedly” is pathetic. The e-mail is in the exhibits! It is a fact. And this usage is important because the reader is led to believe that the e-mail might not exist, that this is a factual dispute among the parties. The first step of good reporting on court cases is to distinguish between what is merely “alleged” and what is truth.

#4 Comment By Williams Alum On December 7, 2016 @ 4:16 pm

David Dudley Field ’25 says:
Your tendency to pick on the Record is ridiculous.

You need to be more specific. I do not pick on (or even criticize!) the Record in this post. I merely ponder some complex questions that they are confronting right now.

Pathetic is a pretty pointed word.

#5 Comment By très volontaire ’17 On December 7, 2016 @ 6:54 pm

Williams Alum –

Yup! I’ve been asking about it, in many different ways, but no one’s given me a straight answer.

As for point one, I don’t think it’s petty, because such meandering and untrue characterizations like that by the Record undermine what actually happened. If the Record doesn’t call out facts (which, in this case, are damning towards the administration), then it is no wonder the massive issues that this case brings to light isn’t being discussed on campus. That needs to change.

#6 Comment By Remember the tips case? On December 8, 2016 @ 7:20 am

Tres-

Wiliams is very good at manipulating the media. That is part of the reason the college has a full time PR staff.

The Record almost always if not always dumbs down the colleges’ role in any scandal. The Record fails to do real investigative reporting on anything that may harm the brand. The problem with that is the college gets away with a lot and is never forced to change.

I remember the reporting from the Record when the college got sued for “keeping tips” that were given to employees during alumni events. There could have been much more done on that. The alumni who placed money in the jar or gave extra to food services worked who work very hard over alumni weekend would like to know more about that- since the school not only stole money from its employees, but from donors as well.

#7 Comment By Williams Alum On December 8, 2016 @ 8:52 am

tv17 –

You’ve been asking about what? Why this was the first issue since the incident? I can answer that. The Record follows a fairly predictable schedule. If there were classes as usual the week before, there will be an issue this week.

That is true for this week.

That is not true for last week, as the week before that was Thanksgiving. Thus the planning for the issue (which starts the week before and goes until late in the evening of Tuesday) would have had to be done while students were home on Thanksgiving break.

It has nothing to do with this case. As a general rule, you can pretty easily guess whether there is going to be a Record issue in any given week.

I hope that is the straight answer you are looking for.

WA