Our last issue was heavy. Garnett Salmon, the former FSW registrar, was arrested for rape. The Compass ran a front-page story about him.
People on campus have made complaints, but not to me.
The complaints have been made to the Compass adviser, the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences dean, and the interim provost.
Here are some top criticisms that have found their way to me.
Our adviser showed me an email from someone angry that we did not put the word ‘alleged’ in our headline. The article clearly did not accuse Salmon, it described the accusations against him.
FSW Interim Provost Eileen DeLuca said seven or eight faculty members had been in her office with complaints about the paper. Many of them claimed that we identified Salmon’s alleged victim.
We took extreme care to do the exact opposite.
The Compass’s editors, adviser and I spent days editing several drafts of the article. Our final draft was submitted to a media lawyer who checked explicitly for passages that might libel Salmon or identify a possible victim.
We made changes to our article based on the lawyer’s suggestions.
Others are bothered that we called Salmon’s alleged crimes rape. The Florida statute uses the euphemism “sexual battery” to describe rape.
The Compass does not believe in euphemisms. We try to report everything clearly with honest, accessible language.
There is one more criticism that I take personally.
Some female professors related that student survivors of sexual assault were retraumatized by the article.
For centuries, the stories of survivors have been silenced. They have been told it wasn’t really rape; they have been asked what they were wearing; they have been told it can’t happen to men.
The stories were passed down as knowledge, warnings from mothers to daughters. How not to walk alone at night; how to build weapons out of keys; how to have Public Safety on speed dial.
I am one of those daughters. I never want to be one of those silencers, nor does the Compass.
I encourage anyone with something to say about the article to write a letter to the editor at email@example.com.
(I understand why some might want to not identify themselves. We took extreme care not to identify the victim of Salmon’s alleged crimes in our article on his arrest. I see no reason why we wouldn’t do the same if sexual assault survivors responded to the article.)
I stand by these students’ reactions. I think they are fitting to the crimes that Salmon is accused of.
I also stand by my article, as does the Compass.
I stand by my article because it is the truth. These are the crimes Salmon is accused of. These are the details that FSW needs to know.
Obscuring the truth or using euphemisms only helps abusers hide from their crimes.
Survivors’ stories and the truth are not adversaries. Progress will not be made by trimming down either of them.
Progress will be made by telling complete stories, by standing together against censorship and silencing, and by bringing the truth to light.
I hope that the Compass can be part of that telling as an independent news source written and edited by students.
So that’s it. You are holding the final issue of the Compass for the 2019 spring semester. Don’t worry, we will publish again in fall.
Write to us about our continued coverage of Garnett Salmon’s case in fall semester.