This letter was submitted to The Daily Aztec in response to Leonardo Castaneda’s opinion column“New A.S. candidates challenge A.S. status quo,” which ran on Wednesday, March 23.
Integrity – a person’s integrity, or ethical principles, is what defines him or her. A person’s integrity can inspire supporters to follow a person. During elections, a person’s integrity is undoubtedly called in to question.
Of the four candidates running for the A.S. executive vice president seat, The Daily Aztec has chosen to focus solely on one candidate – one of its own writers. Journalistically, this is a conflict of interest and a departure from media’s standard of fair press for all candidates during an election, which is a practice long established and respected.
Additionally, while touted a non-Greek candidate who is “reaching out to the some 27,000 other students who don’t normally vote,” both Joe Stewart and The Daily Aztec have yet to provide the “how.” Actions speak louder than words, but as of now, Joe Stewart’s campaign has been words without much back up. Tuesday’s endorsement of Joe Stewart said: “He focused on what makes holding a position meaningful: ‘I don’t think that leadership is about the titles that you’ve held, but the people that you’ve changed when you held those titles.” But what leadership titles has Joe Stewart held? Should we simply be able to get the type of leader needed to be the Executive Vice President of A.S. by his slogan, “Because I give a f**k”?
Two of the other A.S. executive vice president candidates have strong résumés of previous leadership in and out of the Greek community. While the perception is that the Greek community and Associated Students are too closely intertwined, it is not something that A.S. seeks out. Associated Students cannot be blamed if the Greek students are inherently more involved in student life.
Associated Students works hard to publicize itself and its openings to the student body. Through the use of many different mediums including ads in The Daily Aztec, the A.S. website, Facebook, Twitter and mass e-mails to all students, Associated Students advertises the election applications and then the elections themselves. However, as the voice of the student body, it is The Daily Aztec that should be ensuring it covers every aspect of the elections, its process and the candidates. The coverage this year has been sorely lacking. There has not been one news story regarding the elections. Instead, every piece published has been in the Opinion section where the biased views of Joe’s friends and colleagues have been able to one-sidedly cover the elections and the process. The candidate debates on March 15 were not even covered until March 22 — in the Opinion section.
This opinion is not about who you should or should not vote for but instead the integrity of The Daily Aztec. What integrity has the paper shown? According to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, which The Daily Aztec is supposed to follow, “the duty of the journalist is to further (public enlightenment) by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.” Without fair and balanced coverage in the News section, the paper has used itself as a platform to further the goals of one candidate with complete disregard for fair coverage to the other candidates.
— Sean Kashanchi, business management senior,
Executive vice president of Associated Students
***Response from Editor in Chief Ruthie Kelly:
The Daily Aztec, as an organization, has not chosen to endorse any specific candidates this election. Such an endorsement would be made via the Editorial Board, which would involve a majority vote of the management of The Daily Aztec and would not contain a byline to attribute the recommendations to any one author; such an endorsement would represent the collective support of the entire paper. All recommendations and endorsements that have been made thus far are those of the authors themselves, which is why those endorsements included the author’s name and the disclaimer, “The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.” In an effort to further clarify Joe Stewart’s relationship to The Daily Aztec, all election coverage of him has included a note to inform readers of the personal connection to those authors and unattributed endorsements were removed. We regret any misperception that this may have created for our readers.