Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Society That Can Not be Named

Let's talk about secret societies and the people who decide to join them, especially when its the editor-in-chief of the school paper. The ever so arrogant Donn Fresard at the Michigan Daily has announced his plans to join the society formerly known as Michigauma.

Daily Editor in Chief to join senior society - News

(For background information on Michigauma, refer to Robert Goodspeed's blog, the Goodspeed Update.

Fresard is the editor-in-chief during the academic year, while someone else serves as a summer EIC. And being a daily staff member, I can vouch for Fresard's concerns about editors keeping themselves holed up in the student publications building, which is something that needs to be addressed but not like this. Michigauma has a very turbulent past and has been the cause of increasing concern among the campus community because many notable campus figures have been given membership. This past year the membership of Neal Pancholi and Sam Woll caused concern because both individuals held significant power in multiple groups. Eventually both were made to step down from the South Asian Awareness Network and the Campaign to Cut Coke Contracts (coke coalition) because significant conflict of interest.

Personally, I don't believe Michigauma has reformed itself, especially not by just making the pride of '06 and '07 known to everyone else. The group has a very hostile relationship with other campus groups, making it significant fodder for stories, as well as strong connections to other campus groups that are written about, as well as influential alumni. This itself creates a huge conflict of interest, and the Daily has certain rules that deal with conflict of interest. The most prominent rule being that a staff member of the Daily can not be in student government. I wonder why that is? Is it because we cover them and attempt to hold them accountable for their actions, promises and mistakes? As a newspaper, wouldn't be do the same for Michigauma? Of course we would.

I do give the managing board credit for having a majority against him joining and remaining, but not enough to make him resign. I don't understand what happened and how people thought it was okay. Managing Editor Ashley Dinges resigned in protest, but has also being receiving comments over her rash decision and how it will hurt the newspaper. I admire Dinges for what she believes in, but sometimes you have to fight to make sure he doesn't step over the line.

As a writer, I don't appreciate having my work and its integrity compromised, and I'm going to make it does not happen. As a staffer and not an editor, my opinion, along with all the other staffers, was left out. I'm going to make sure that voice is heard because we're the ones who all the work, instead of keeping our noses stuck in the newspaper instead the drafty old student publications building.

This situation has catapulted its way to the pages of the chronicle for Higher Education, and connected a lot of alumni and former Daily editors/staffers together. Its great publicity, but not the good kind. I honestly fear the situation that will at hand once the academic year begins again because of so many members such as N.Stallings, A.Yahkind, G,Pai and others being in charge of influential groups.

For many, the Daily has served as a place to grow, learn and become deeply involved in our passion for writing, and there is no way something like this is going to happen while I sit on the sidelines. I couldn't join the ranks of the editors because of my time committment to my schoolwork (as a science major, it takes alot of time to study) and campus groups, but as a staffer who's been there forever, I'm not going to let something like rank and title push me aside.

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