In defense of Nicholas Rodman
In its oddly one-sided take on the whining of the Campaign to Kick Coke Off Campus attempt to ban fine Coca-Cola products from campus (“Coke’s Future on Campus Hinges on Vote,” 5/11/2007), the Maroon pulled off a despicable hack job on a College Council (CC) member.
In the article, the Maroon offers a juicy scoop on an “incident” between CC member Nicholas Rodman and an unnamed member of the campaign. According to the article just a day before a presentation to CC, Rodman barged into a member of the campaign’s room and told her that he was going “to rip [her] campaign a new asshole.” The article then goes on to point out that an e-mail sent by campaign leader Alex Moore said that Rodman would offer his vote in exchange for “favors.”
Wow! Those are bold accusations that could haunt Rodman for years to come (just think of Google); accordingly, you’d think the threshold for publication of such bold accusations would be exceedingly high. But not at the Maroon. In fact, Rodman was almost completely left out of this process. At the last second, just hours before publication, news editors made a half-hearted attempt to contact Rodman and get his side of the story, but when he didn’t pick up his room phone late last Thursday, the article was still published.
Had author Mimi Yang and the news editors actually inquired, they would have found that Rodman is far from the vulgar sexual deviant that Yang characterized him as, and that the incident at hand was between individuals who were friends and housemates first and foremost, not people who interacted only because of one’s involvement in a fringe group to ban Coke on campus and the other’s membership on CC.
Furthermore, had the Maroon gone on to talk to mutual friends of Rodman and the victimized girl in question, it would find that Rodman’s statements were about as newsworthy and scandalous as any over-the-top joke one housemate makes to another (it’s called exaggeration and irony, people!).
Of course, this is probably why CC president Scott Duncombe censored the e-mail; he knew that the accusations were purely about the campaign trying to advance its own interests by defaming a reputable CC member. Instead, we are force-fed some fallacious conspiracy theory in which Duncombe is Student Government’s protector, Rodman is the deviant, and the anti-Coke activists are poor victims of CC censorship and bullying.
Now, when you find out about Rodman’s previous relationship with the campaign member, it completely changes the story. But for some reason the Maroon editors are standing by their story (which should be corrected or at the very least amended on the Maroon website). Granted, they didn’t defame Rodman in the legal sense of the word, as the Maroon was only reporting on the content of an e-mail, but that’s no standard I’ve ever heard any publication strive for.
Third-year in the College
Former Viewpoints Editor