Saturday, September 01, 2007

Inconsistencies at the Spartan Daily

This article atop the Spartan Daily's website rubbed me the wrong way, so I sent the following comment into the paper. I'd like other people's takes on it, and see if they thought any of the same things I did, or if I was way off base.

Dear Spartan Daily,

A few parts of this article concerned me, so I thought I'd list my concerns here.

First, that there is no confirmation of Holsworth's statement that he COMPLETED his registration during the summer orientation program, which, if untrue, would make the rest of his story invalid. And because of the weight Holsworth's statement are given by the prominence of this article on the top of the website and paper, I believe the Daily NEEDS the University's side on this, no matter how much hounding is needed.

Second, while it is true that there are seven residence halls, one is specifically set aside for teachers and faculty only, an important fact to note.

Third, Holsworth is quoted as saying that, "[the University] didn't offer anything in the meantime until something opened up." I am fairly certain that it has NEVER been University policy to house students off-campus if space is unavailable. The cost to do so for a long waiting list of students would be astronomical. Besides, Holsworth's statement is somewhat contradicted two paragraphs below when you write, "Residents were given the option to sign up for temporary housing at reduced rates until a more permanent residence became available." So which was it? Were students given the option to sign up for temporary housing and Holsworth didn't sign up, or did the University just tell him to wait by the phone without giving any explanation?

Fourth, if you were unable to contact the University for a statement, what University source was used to make the statement, "According to university housing there are approximately 10 students depending on the building in need of residence." If it was the University Housing website, that should be cited. The same problem arises from the uncited statement, "Residents were given the option to sign up for temporary housing at reduced rates until a more permanent residence became available." Was this fact gathered from students, the website, or another University staff member?

Fifth, you write, "The addendum states that each window has a rolling metal shutter that automatically drops when a trouble alarm is sounded on the lower floors or when there is a power outage. These shutters can only be raised by a maintenance request from university housing facilities, which may not be done immediately."

But is this not also true of the entire first floor as well, not just the temporary rooms?

Sixth, after writing of the temporary housing that was made available to students, you write, "Holsworth said that because housing did not offer any alternate options or draw his attention to their availability he was left with no other choice but to live out of his car." These two apparent contradictions at the very least draw doubt on Holsworth's credibility, leaving me wondering again why he was featured at all if his statements may be inaccurate.

Seventh, because a question of Holsworth's credibility can be made, his age is also relevant to the piece, but not written. Here's why: if he had a place to stay at his parent's place, and they could be legally obligated to house him (if he's underage), then it was purely a personal choice that he slept out of his car, and not the University's responsibility at all. Personally, I know several businessmen that commute from Sacramento to San Francisco and San Jose everyday, so it is not completely impossible to do, as the article made it seem.

Eighth, because Holsworth adds that he did not tell his parents about the situation, it may have been appropriate to contact his parents about it, especially if, after contacting Housing, you found that his parents helped pay for his housing. No mention of any of this leads me to suspect that Holsworth possibly did not complete his application, and did not want his parents to know about it.

Lastly, the word "finally" in the line, "After a week of checking in with the housing office for no-shows and move-outs, Holsworth finally received a phone call late Tuesday afternoon...," assumes that the University had not attempted to contact him previously in any way, that Holsworth's statement of what the University told him was true, and that the University was at fault for his predicament.

While everything that Holsworth said may very well be true, the weight his words are given are not acceptable given the one sidedness of the story.

I am interested in seeing a follow up to this article.

Sincerely and Respectfully,
Andrew Venegas
Print Journalism Major