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Image from Pexels

If there’s one thing my institution is known for (besides our overhyped basketball team and our plethora of rich white kids), it’s controversy. Four years ago, a student wrote her senior thesis rating her sexual experiences with various men—powerpoint included. And just last year, a fraternity hosted a party with its theme revolving around racist stereotypes regarding the Asian community.

A few days ago, a freshman girl was publicly revealed in our school newspaper for her decision to supplement her tuition through the porn industry. The article was then promoted by The Huffington Post, after which the scandal went viral. Well, here are a few things I have to say:

1. Respect journalistic integrity.

The article written in our school newspaper has gone absolutely viral. The subject of the article wrote a response, detailing the misconstrued opinions and blatantly wrong claims laden throughout the entire article.

When you write for a newspaper, you’re not reporting on your opinions. You’re reporting on hard facts. In defense of the author, the “Towerview” section of our school newspaper is unique in its editorial journalism. However, when exploring such a triggering topic, especially when there is so much at stake, you have an obligation to do a damn good job on what you portray, and how you portray it.

Furthermore, when you get your subject to mention something off the record, you respect that. And by placing off-the-record statements in your article, you not only betray the trust of your subject, but you defile the already-lacking sanctity of good journalism. Unfortunately, we don’t know who’s telling the complete truth here. But the point is, no matter who you are, beware of what you say, and how you say it.

2. Respect a woman’s privacy.

There isn’t much to say about this. You ruined a girl’s life just so you can seem favorable among your fraternity brothers? That’s just downright disgusting. Your actions carry just as much potential as your words, if not even more. Realize when your actions hold the power to completely alter someone’s life, and behave accordingly.

3. Respect an individual’s decisions.

If there is one thing high school Lifetime movies should have taught you, it’s that your words and actions are more powerful than you think. How horrified and upset would you be to read an online discussion led by your classmates harassing and derailing you for your choices and decisions? There is absolutely no excuse for cyber bullying. Ever. You have the ability to use your words to inspire a generation of people, to articulate the beauty hidden in this world. You have the power to make a positive, lasting impact on someone’s life. Consider how it reflects on you when you instead use your words to hurt others. Consider how it reflects on you when you act instead with the purposeful intent to harm another person.

Ultimately, what does this say about my institution? What does this say about colleges in general? And most importantly, what does this say about our society? How do you explain the fact that a girl had to go through means as extreme as pornography to receive the education she had earned? How do you explain the fact that she felt so compelled by society to pursue pornography, just so she can pay for a “top-tier” education instead of attending another college in which she received a full scholarship? How do you explain the fact that the members of an esteemed institution refuse to hold themselves with even the most basic standards decency and respect?

In our increasingly interdependent and media-driven world, we must be cognizant of the unfortunate truth that our words and actions have the potential for enormous consequences. Your college years are no longer simple and stupid “college years” you can nostalgically reflect on many years from now. It consists of adult hardships, challenging choices, and mature lessons to be learned, all thrust upon teenagers at once. And let me be the one to tell you that it sucks.

But let me also be the one to tell you that it gets better. So before you go on with your life, take a step back. Take a deep breath. Appreciate the world around you. And help others achieve the means to appreciate theirs as well.



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  1. Sophia Chiang on July 24, 2015

    Preach! Especially disgusted that The Huffington Post promoted this…

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