Unfair Coverage

I was disappointed to see the recent Cynic article published on Nov. 6 which headlined, “ResLife Draws Critiism for Concealing Asbestos” and the follow-up Op-Ed piece entitled “An Inadequate Response.” While I don’t typically make it a habit to respond to Cynic articles and especially opinion pieces, I feel compelled this time because it is about the health and safety of our campus community. The article chastises Residential Life for not making it more known that asbestos exists in the basement of Coolidge. What the article failed to mention is that asestos is everywhere – in your classrooms, the library, most likely your homes … and yes, just as the article states, it does not pose a threat unless disturbed. As confirmed by the Physical Plant Training and Compliance Office, the removal of asbestos from campus buildings is about as routine as dis?carding the trash. What really is irksome is that The Cynic chooses to berate Residential Life about a lack of “transparency in communication” when The Cynic – whose sole purpose is informing the campus community – remains silent on the real threats of safety to our students: increasing sexual assaults, bias incidents, alcohol and drug abuse, drug dealing that goes unreported, vandalism and tampering with fire safety equipment and letting strangers into locked buildings. In fact, not only does The Cynic remain silent about these important issues, but it also seems to only perpetuate or glorify alcohol use, sexual promiscuity and slanted perspectives about who is being harmed on campus. For instance, the sex advice column that makes reference to alcohol use and sex without any regard for taking health and safety precautions or last year’s mixed drink recipes that were touted as “feature items.” Another example is even within this same issue with the front page article about a bias incident where a student was targeted as being “heterosexist,” via graffiti, which I agree should not be tolerated. But its front page headline gives the impression that when heterosexuals may be the victims of hate, The Cynic is suddenly appalled and worried about their safety. What about the safety of the eight women who reported being sexually assaulted this September? Or the 96 women who reported being sexually assaulted last year? Or the bias incidents (26 reported to Residential Life, nine reported to Police Services this year) that have targeted students in marginalized communities? The University has put hundreds of thousands of dollars into student safety both in infrastructure, programming and most recently the campus-wide THINK, CARE, ACT safety campaign all in an effort to educate students and provide them with the resources they need to make good decisions. So, Cynic staff, when you are ready to really talk about safety and be “transparent in your communication” about what is truly harmful to students, let me know. Annie StevensAassistant Vice PresidentStudent and Campus Life