29 February 2008

"The Lumberjack" Screws Students Over Again

This time, though, it wasn't the College Republicans. Yesterday, the Lumberjack released a "specialty publication" entitled the "Best of NAU" with a bunch of little blurbs about a variety of people, places, and things that students could read and then go online and complete a survey to vote for the best ______ in Flagstaff. Sample categories: 1. Hottest professor (male and female) 2. Best place to have sex on campus 3. Best place to take someone on a first date 4. Best activity for underage people on a Friday night 5. Best fraternity/sorority Well, unfortunately, their writers at the paper (who shall remain nameless, as I know who they are and don't want a witch-hunt) decided to write the following things about several of the Greek chapters at NAU: 1. Alpha Omicron Pi: "On Nov. 23, 1963, NAU was blessed with Alpha Omicron Pi sorority (YAY, us)." 2. Alpha Delta Pi: "... And if you're still not convinced, we heard a rumor that they like to get busy with some pretty wild pillow fights." 3. Kappa Alpha: "... So when you see KA on those sweaters and shirts all over campus, be sure to let them know we're not worthy of their excellence." 4. Phi Delta Theta: "So maybe you're actually into the whole brotherly love thing, but we know most of you are only into it for the trips to Lake Havasu and the easy access to sorority girls." 5. Pi Kappa Alpha: "Plus, we hear they can play a mean game of beer pong." 6. Theta Chi (these are my residents): "Who the hell wants to be an ox for life? ... Located in Mountain View, the fraternity is on campus and ready to do whatever fraternities do. I guess being a big dumb animal for life doesn't sound so bad after all." So, basically, Greeks were insinuated as being: blessed, full of themselves, wild, party animals, womanizers, alcoholics, and big dumb animals who don't really do anything. Um, yeah, not cool. Many, many of these people are my good friends, and aside from the obvious that they're pretty pissed about this stuff, the writers did not take into account all the good things that these chapters do, including donating tens of thousands of dollars collectively to charity annually, posting thousands of hours of community service annually, having some of the highest collective grade point averages of any group on campus, and being leaders on our campus (student body president, homecoming king, ASNAU senators, etc). Because the writers are not themselves Greeks, and because they did not seek the input of anyone within the Greek system regarding these comments, and because, well, a lot of this stuff is just false altogether or unfounded, their comments are also libelous. Yesterday, when my staff and I found out about this article, I came up with the idea to organize a petition drive to get my residents in Mountain View to sign to formally request that the Lumberjack both retract their statements and issue an apology to all the chapters, which I implemented and obtained 356 signatures for in about 8 hours (which percentage-wise equalled 67% of my building). I delivered the petition to the Lumberjack head honcho today with Greek Life coordinator Wendy Davison during a meeting she was having to try to come to an amicable conclusion about the issue. During the meeting between Wendy and I and the two Lumberjack advisors, they refused to retract any of their statements, citing creative license (despite the fact that each chapter paid around $120.00 for the advertising space), and were exceptionally indignant about the whole matter, refusing to apologize for any of their insults on the grounds that "it is entertainment" and "it was supposed to be funny" and "it accomplished its mission of being a fundraiser." Well, needless to say, my whole building is pretty much up in arms. After living here in this community for a year, I really understand that the stereotypes portrayed by "Animal House" or "American Pie: Beta House" are very much unfounded and defamatory, and all the work that my residents have done on NAU's campus to dispel that negative image was washed out by less than 100 words in yesterday's paper. You might think "but does anyone actually read the paper?" Well, I can tell you that 5,000 EXTRA copies were printed just yesterday so that they can be placed on the Dome seats during sporting events, and the results copy of the paper yet to be released is set to be given to everyone attending graduation in May of this year. So yeah, it's going to get read. And not just by students, but by their parents, friends, relatives, little siblings, everything. So, I'll post again later on some of the results of the next couple weeks as this issue moves forward, but I have heard tell that two chapters, Phi Delta Theta and Theta Chi, are preparing lawsuits alleging defamation of character over the issue. I will be helping as much as I can, so I hope anyone who is reading this will also show their support for what I feel is a more than worthy cause.

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