COLUMN: Providing context and clarity
As editor-in-chief of Central Michigan Life, I will gladly explain our team’s decisions about how we cover the news throughout my leadership.
Part of my job is to provide context and clarity for what we print and I will always be open to doing so when approached respectfully.
In light of the mass response following the publishing of our fourth story of ongoing coverage on the Delta Chi fraternity, I’d like to do just that.
As a news outlet, it is our responsibility to tell the best obtainable version of the truth. We’re here to find the facts and report them the best we can.
We want an informed community.
Prior to Monday’s article releasing information obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, the cause for Delta Chi’s four-year suspension was foggy. In the first three stories CM Life published on Delta Chi, we only knew allegations of alcohol violations were on the table. The crime and the punishment didn’t quite add up.
There was speculation in every direction, but we stuck to what we could report at the time.
We spoke with and published comments from university officials and Delta Chi members, as well as the fraternity’s lawyer and advisor, Todd Levitt. We reached out to the national chapter of Delta Chi, but never had our calls returned for comment.
Obtaining the FOIA from CMU, packed with university and police reports, we were able to better understand why the fraternity was dealt such a heavy punishment.
Finally, the missing piece was found.
We summarized the 166-page investigation and provided it for the uninformed public already getting frustrated with the university’s unnecessarily harsh punishment for an alcohol violation.
The fourth story was not the publishing of one side, but rather the additional side we were missing in our previous coverage. It told us, and members of our community, what the full allegations were against Delta Chi and what the university looked at in making its decision.
In addition to the alcohol policy, we found allegations of improper conduct, harassment and intimidation, along with a 15-year list of previous violations and ignored sanctions.
Our goal is, has and will always be to remove speculation and rumor, or cut it down as much as possible. That’s why we’re here.
We will never be “out to get anyone” and our personal opinions are irrelevant everywhere but our Voices page. We also aren’t “trying to sell papers” – we provide a free product.
As we continue through the semester, we’re going to continue to investigate various issues and people and we’ll report what we know. We don’t make people look good or look bad. We report the news and allow you to make judgments.
If we are able to uncover more details of the Delta Chi story, we will continue our coverage.
I only ask that if you have questions or concerns with how we handle the news, that you contact us professionally.
We’re here to provide a service for you, the community. We’re going to do that to the best of our ability.