I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Western Carolina’s news publications, especially the PuSH section; it is very amusing at times. However, when I received the February 14 issue, instead of enjoying it as usual, I was appalled. I feel strongly that it was wrong for you to publish the picture of room 510 on the front page of your publication, pin pointing the exact room in Harrill Hall where the freshman student Erin Hawk lost her life. This picture could scare freshmen from the room, the suite, the building, and maybe even the school for years to come. In addition, without directly stating the student’s death, rumors can spread in a close-knit school like Western Carolina.
Although you cleverly did not mention the room number anywhere in the actual article, the fact still remains that the picture was displayed with the big bold red numbers. This leaves no question to the reader where this event occurred. Putting the room number in the picture is probably the most incriminating way you could have presented the information. Considering most students do not read the paper cover to cover usually just glancing over headlines and pictures, you have done the most damage by this picture on the front page.
I know that when I first came to Western Carolina University from 300 miles away I was a little scared to say the least. If I had found out that someone had died in my exact room, I do not know how I could sleep soundly at night. I am aware of the fact that there are some people out there who do not care that someone died in their room, or they want to know if something like this has happened in the past. However most of my peers that I have spoken with regarding the issue all seemed to agree with me.
It is your job to report incidences accurately giving your reader all the information. By only the room number and not directly stating how the student died, you are allowing students to form their own conclusions. In stating all these issues, I feel that it is your responsibility as the editor to see that the paper analyzes the information properly. I sincerely hope that in the future that the paper could be a little more considerate and discrete regarding sensative issues.