The following letter was written in response to a misquoted statement from “Survey Says” (The Bullet, Oct. 4, 2007):
I was recently contacted by my former advisor, with whom I have kept in touch since graduation, and he informed me of a recent article about UMW’s disapproval ratings (“Survey Says…” Oct. 4).
He explained that he was concerned about a rather prominent quote of mine, as it did not sound like anything I would say. He mailed me the paper and I saw that I had not, in fact, said anything of the sort.
I was (mis)quoted, in large print, in the middle of the front page of the paper, as saying “If I had known how unhappy I’d be, I would have transferred.”
I was utterly appalled. Inside the article I found the full quote, including the bit that had been re-quoted on the front, but written as “If I had known how unhappy I’d be, would I have transferred? Maybe.”
This may seem like nothing to the average reader, but there are a number of things I’d like to point out, beginning with the least significant:
First of all, the larger of the two quotes was inaccurate and much more seditious, implying that my sentiments were firm and decided, whereas the inside quote left room for improvement, so to speak.
Second of all, the improper punctuation left much to be desired and actually alters the readers’ perception of the quote. This, however, can be passed off as a typo and is admittedly insignificant.
The heart of my complaint, however, lies with the reporter and the lack of journalistic ethics. I am not a journalist myself, but even as a mathematical analyst I know that Facebook (the source of the quote) is far from a reliable journalistic source.
I think the readers would agree that things said on Facebook are often spontaneous and not very well thought out. According to my quote, I had written those words two weeks before graduation on a Facebook group devoted to griping about my soon-to-be Alma Mater. I don’t think I’m alone in the group of people who have seen or heard or experienced something infuriating and gone straight to a public, but informal, forum to vent our frustrations.
At the time of my writing, if any non-freshman may remember, our school was undergoing many administrative changes, including the unfortunate incidents surrounding our latest elected president’s untimely departure, not to mention various personal conflicts. Suffice it to say that it was a rant, nothing more, and as such was made in the heat of anger. If anyone had asked me about it, I would have made that point clear and supplemented the inquirer with a more accurate, honest, and objective quote.
This brings me to my next and final point. My rant was quoted completely and utterly without permission.
To be perfectly honest, to this day I do not even remember writing anything of the sort, and before serious consideration I would have completely denied writing it.
It was not until I thoroughly dug into my memory that I remembered being upset enough to write anything on Facebook, and if I had been questioned by anyone, especially anyone on the Bullet staff, I would not have permitted such a use of my quote, especially in large print on the cover.
This afternoon I went onto Facebook for the first time in at least two months and found a note by the author of the article in question. In the note the author asked permission to use my quote, but since I had not been on Facebook in so long I did not read the note at all, much less respond.
I can only assume that the author grew frustrated with my lack of response and decided to use the quote anyway, possibly assuming that my disappearance indicated my lack of interest in my Alma Mater and any goings-on therewithin.
Unfortunately for the author, this was not the case and her lack of stronger journalistic ethics has finally brought trouble. Hence this letter.
If any student considers their college career, they would find numerous times at which they were upset with their school for one reason or another.
During the last few weeks of college some students cling to their school while others distance themselves. I was of the former category and have since rediscovered my love for my Alma Mater. I have become a recruiter for UMW, in fact, and have developed more school spirit than I have ever had before.
Officially and for the record–so please feel free to quote me on this—I love this school and I am extremely glad that, despite the bumps in my four-year road, I did not transfer; I stuck it out and I came out a better person for it, both academically and socially.
I would not change a single thing about the last four years of my life. End quote.
Chelsea Seachord graduated from UMW in 2007.