Thursday, March 13, 2008

What's The Hatchet Afraid Of?

In the last round of elections, the Hatchet refused to endorse anyone. But in the runoff, the editorial board has endorsed Vishal Aswani. What changed?
Neither Kevin Kozlowski nor Vishal Aswani has any exceedingly noteworthy achievements under his belt. But the Student Association senate has not historically been the place to do that. Evaluating them more heavily on their leadership capabilities, drive to effect change within the University bureaucracy and thoughts on how best to represent the average student's needs, this page found only one candidate to lead next year's student government. After meeting with and re-evaluating the remaining two candidates, The Hatchet endorses Vishal Aswani for the SA presidency.
Okay, the lead of this editorial is pretty funny -- acknowledging the relative unimportance of the SA is a nice touch. But one meeting with the guy, and we've gone from "a hint of insincerity" about Aswani's campaign to full-throated support? Granted, a hint of something is a pretty weak reason for not endorsing someone -- something tells me the board was probably split on this and couldn't reach a decision.

In fact, the closer I read these editorials, the more convinced I am that the Hatchet almost endorsed Aswani the first time around. This line from their original endorsement editorial is most telling. It's from the paragraph in the editorial talking about the problems with Aswani's positions -- the last sentence, normally an attempt to put a cap on what my editorial professor called "opposing view":
We also were impressed by Aswani's plan to form a database with corporate sponsors and government grants for student organizations. This showed his deft ability to research other universities' plans and develop a viable solution to the problem of inadequate funding.
Why was that in the negative paragraph? This editorial has the fingerprints of internal debate all over it. It seems like this may have started out as a pro-Aswani endorsement, before someone (or, more likely, several someones) started touting OG Oyiborhoro. Obviously, "we got into a huge argument about these two guys and couldn't make up our minds, so we're not endorsing anyone" is a bad reason to write an editorial. But it's the board's responsibility to explain their positions, and this editorial doesn't do that at all. The negative coverage of Aswani is weak, and the pro-Oyiborhoro paragraph seems crammed in -- as though in the final readthrough of this draft someone brought up the fact that "he seemed the most serious."

I have no problem with the Hatchet withholding its endorsement, or with the board changing its mind later in the cycle. But the editorial board needs to back up these actions with facts, and neither of these editorials does that. Aswani comes off in the first editorial as a little too idealistic, but that's a stupid reason not to support him. The Hatchet didn't make clear the reasons it couldn't endorse anyone, and it didn't explain what changed the minds of the people on the editorial board. This is pretty shoddy journalism.

(A note: I didn't vote in the regular election and probably won't vote in this one. All I know of these candidates is what I read in the Hatchet and how their supporters treat me when they accost me in the streets on my way to class.)

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