Hide   Volume
The Communicator NEWS & POLITICS

Letter to the Editor


Photo credit:

Written by: Communicator StaffFebruary 14, 2013

I am writing this letter in response to recent events surrounding the “Learn as You Go Graduate Teaching Assistants…” article. As an IPFW student and Facebook user, I was appalled to see the very negative and very public attacks aimed at The Communicator and the article’s student-author, Jessica Geyer. The attacks came from one of the article’s interviewees, an IPFW Graduate Teaching Assistant, who expressed outrage at the article’s content and quality. Subsequently, the interviewee vented her frustrations by tagging various members of the IPFW community in a series of public posts that detailed her complaints. The posts appeared in my Newsfeed because some of the tagged users were Facebook Friends shared between me and the T.A. What followed from the interviewee’s posts was an onslaught of rancorous and rather inappropriate comments including personal attacks, tactless language, and even threats of violence. Most unsettling, many of these comments were made by other IPFW faculty and staff members. I can understand feeling troubled and embarrassed by perceptions of misrepresentation. I can even understand wanting to lash out and publicly criticize the author and publication. However, Facebook is not the place to do this. Considering the newspaper and its staff were the source of conflict, the appropriate response would have been for all parties to communicate via this medium. Even more appropriate would have been for the interviewee to personally contact the article’s author or supervisor before making a public spectacle. This is one of the first lessons in interpersonal conflict mediation: go directly to the source, and do not escalate the situation in revenge or anger. The Communicator is very willing to print retractions and make apologies when necessary.

In addition, it is also important to remember that behind the printed name there is a real live person—and a student at that. In this case the response is far worse than the provocation. IPFW instructors should not attack students in public forums and encourage or condone threats of violence against them. This behavior makes it feel unsafe for students to openly express themselves and engage in the process of learning. Ms. Geyer is a student-journalist, and should not be vilified but helped, as most of my teachers have taught me that the university is a safe space in which to make mistakes and learn how to correct them. I hope the administration will take these attacks seriously and protect students by investigating the situation.

Alysen Wade
Senior Communication Major