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Questioning depth, diversity of fraternity rush coverage

FIRST off, I'd like to recognize some of the neat features that appeared in last week's papers. Monday's in-depth book reviews were great -- if you missed The Cavalier Daily's "Book Review 1999," look around for an extra copy. The reviews were good examples of the quality writing of which the staff is obviously capable. Thursday's University Forum columns on student activity fees also were interesting.

Rushing for coverage and confusion

I had a premonition that the lead article from Friday, Nov. 12, "Spring rush effects vary by fraternity" was going to lead to trouble. Why, you ask? The comments are mainly due to a confusing introductory paragraph: "Although Dean of Students Penny Rue's unwillingness to negotiate rush dates still is upsetting, not all fraternity houses are suffering financial losses from the move of Inter-Fraternity Council rush from the fall to the spring, several house presidents said yesterday."

Many students -- myself included during my initial reading -- understandably missed what is apparent only upon careful study: that Dean Rue's decision is upsetting to the fraternity presidents mentioned in the article -- and not to The Cavalier Daily. The problem with the article's wording is that it seems to editorialize on the front page.

In addition, there are two other problems with the article. First, the article itself points to a weakness in previous reporting on the issue of fraternity rush. In earlier articles, readers were told that the

loss of funding resulting from the move is a serious problem for fraternities. Friday's article, however, reports that some (in fact "several") houses aren't experiencing significant financial stress due to the move from fall to spring. Why weren't the statements quoted in earlier issues of the paper verified? As I recall, the editors even published a lead editorial in favor of moving rush back to the fall semester, citing as one reason the detriment incurred upon fraternity houses as a result of the original move.

Why hasn't anyone looked at the rush policies of comparative institutions? What have been the general effects of moving rush elsewhere? Can any accurate conclusions really be drawn after a single year of spring rush? Has anyone polled the current first-year students to see what they think of deferred rush? What about non-Greek students? Do they think the move to spring rush has had an impact on the campus one way or another? So far, The Cavalier Daily's coverage has lacked adequate depth. The article gave a quote from a student that claimed student viewpoints weren't given adequate hearing -- so far the only students heard in the paper are the fraternity presidents themselves.

Second, despite the number of notes I received on this article, no one else noticed its really glaring fault. At one point, the author paraphrases a fraternity president, saying "the financial effects on his house have been negligent." Surely, he didn't actually say this. The word negligent means "habitually failing to do the required thing." What was meant here, I'm sure, is that the effects of the move were negligible or trifling.

Printing and writing diversity

I have received a number of letters this semester criticizing The Cavalier Daily's perceived homogeneity. Not everyone is Greek, so the argument goes. Where are the internationals, the religious advocates, those who do not party every weekend on Rugby Road?

My question is, where are the alternative perspectives willing to write such columns? I get many complaints, but few (make that no) offers. I too think the paper would benefit by an infusion of diversity, but this takes people willing to write and express different viewpoints. Hey, I have my column. If you want your opinion printed, you'll have to get your own.

Kory v Smith

Without a doubt, last year's incident involving Alexander "Sandy" Kory and his assailants was big news and rightfully received a great deal of attention from students and other University community members. Yet, I am no longer convinced that the civil cases of those involved are front-page news. This week we read that Kory was planning to file a lawsuit and then we learned that he did, in fact, do so. Both write-ups were clear and well researched, but please tell me we'll be spared a play-by-play of the rest of the case. Criminal trials involving issues of justice and hearings debating the sanctity of the honor system -- these interest me, but just let me guess who gets the magic $1.25 million in the end. Think I'm out of line? Explain to me why Kory's lawsuit is the big-ticket item for news on The Cavalier Daily Online Edition, while Texas A&M's bonfire tragedy isn't mentioned on the front page at all. Some perspective when placing articles, please.

Online debut

Incidentally, readers, I hope you'll share your reviews of the new Online Edition site. The site itself has been streamlined and the links and graphics look better. My favorite features are still in place -- weather and the student poll -- and I also like the in-depth links. (I know: let's get statements from fraternity presidents on how much the rush move has actually hurt their house and link that with information from other universities. Very useful coverage.) What do you think about the improved Online Edition? What still needs to be fixed? Email me at ombudsman@cavalierdaily.com and let me know.

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