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The Blue & Gray Press | August 21, 2019

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Letter to the Editor: The Bullet's handling of drug story distasteful

Dear Editor,

Let me begin by expressing my disappointment in the Bullet for the lack of taste shown in the handling of so sensitive an issue. The goal of this letter is not to perpetuate this cycle of blame but to offer our community and the Bullet suggestions for going forward with this matter.

We as a community of students are given a chance here, in this “scandal,” to define ourselves to the University and to the Fredericksburg community.

What these students face is not perhaps as isolated or sensational as some might make it appear or may think. Yes, these students made errors in judgment, or we wouldn’t be having this debate; but who among us can say that we haven’t made a few in our years at Mary Washington?

Who among us can honestly say that they haven’t done anything illegal during their time in college?  That being said, perhaps we ought to practice extreme caution as we throw stones from our glass houses.

One of the best things about our University is the community we have here, which is inherently defined by its members, so the idea that names and photo would be published within a student institution and target these students—these people who are still and will always be members of our community—who we ought to be attempting to defend, is disappointing.

The students involved are in a difficult situation, and we ought to respect that and honor their privacy in this matter.

We ought to seek to move forward as a community with this, to turn it into something positive, something that we as a community of students can learn from.

Perhaps in the wake of this we can turn our discussion towards the drug policy of our campus, of our nation, the current punishments for these offenses and to consider further the issues of privacy and judgment within our community.

As we move forward as a community, with the Bullet acting as our voice, there needs to be attempts made towards sensitivity, understanding and learning.

Leah Kieff is a senior.


  1. Education Matters

    “Who among us can honestly say that they haven’t done anything illegal during their time in college? That being said, perhaps we ought to practice extreme caution as we throw stones from our glass houses.”

    I can HONESTLY say that I haven’t done anything illegal during my time at Mary Washington. You can’t say that everyone has done something illegal at college. Some of us don’t waste our time doing drugs and drinking, instead we are studying and working our ass off to gain the most from our college experience. We know how important our education is and how it will help us succeed in the future. I don’t want to live my life in regrets. One day you will truly realize how important your college experience was. Your record number of wins from playing beer pong will not be something you can put on your resume or something you want to tell your future employer. Your GPA, involvement in the community, and honors received are what really matters. I’m not saying you can’t have fun at college. Just don’t be stupid. Apply yourself (you might be amazed).

    Ten years from now, let’s compare our accomplishments.

    *****Remember a life with no regrets.*****

  2. Diane Clark

    WOW!!! Whoever you are, you are so much wiser than your years. This is the first time I have ever commented on anything in the Bullet. Kudos to you for your sound judgment and understanding of all of this!!! Regardless of what we think are bad (or good) laws, they are provided for a reason. Without laws, there would be no order. Without order, there is chaos. Understanding potential impacts of one’s behavior contributes to future success (or failure) in any endeavor. Your understanding of all of this surely portends your success as a citizen of this world and as an individual.

  3. Ben Yazman

    In response to the letter to the editor of the Bullet concerning the recent article pertaining to the drug charges facing a number of Mary Washington students.

    I have read, like most of the campus community by now, the article pertaining to the arrest of my fellow students and I’ve heard disagreement, and even anger, in reaction to it. This disagreement, I think, is misguided for several reasons, mostly having to do with a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of a newspaper.

    Some people feel the Bullet had no right to publish the story at all or that the Bullet, as a student run organization, demonstrated a complete lack of sympathy for fellow students in the article. Another assertion is that the use of personal information in the article (especially names and mug shots) was inappropriate for a newspaper representative of such a small community. Other people might feel that the Bullet should have left such a serious matter to more authoritative reporting sources, like the Free-Lance Star.

    All of these reasons, however, lack fundamental understanding of the role of our campus newspaper, which is to objectively relay facts relevant to our community. In fact the objectivity of this article was spot on. It listed all of the factual information pertaining to the charges, all equally detailed in the Free-Lance Star’s article on the same issue, without asserting that the students in question were innocent or guilty, without sympathy for their situation or anger for their alleged crimes. That is objective reporting. To represent the student population and our opinions on the subject is an entirely separate part of the paper’s responsibility.

    While many students disagree that the names, pictures and hometowns of students charged were unnecessary facts, others may not. After all, these are community members implicated in serious crimes (the standard for “serious crime” being fairly low in our community) and the Bullet has a responsibility to pass on all the information they have in such a case. There was no outcry for the Bullet publishing the names of the perpetrator of the assault and robbery in the Giant parking lot, or of the man who brandished a weapon at a student down town. These are relevant facts to the story at hand.

    As to the assertion that the Bullet shouldn’t handle this kind of story, due to the story’s sensitivity or subject, I could not disagree more. I think that passing on facts concerning such a major issue as drugs in our community is the exact purpose for the Bullet existing and I commend the staff of the Bullet for their objectivity and professionalism.

  4. Kelly Knight

    Well said Ben.

  5. In response to Education Matters.

    Obviously, you did not fully grasp the argument made by Leah.

    She is more concerned that the article published in the Bullet could have been written from a more factual and less judgmental viewpoint, perhaps like the “Police Beat” sections that appear in the Bullet.

    She was in no way supporting the use of alcohol or narcotics.

    As I know who this girl is, I can “HONESTLY” say that her resume is extensive, spotless and very enviable.

    Do not get so heated. I’m sure if you have your license that you have driven at least one mile over the speed limit. This, too, is illegal.

  6. Thomas

    Kasey, explain how that article was judgmental then. When I read it, all the information I got was “these students were arrested for this.” That’s it. There was no extra opinion in there saying “…and how dare they!”

  7. Loopy-de-Loop

    “Who among us can honestly say that they haven’t done anything illegal during their time in college?”

    Unfortunately, Leah, that’s going to destroy your credibility with some people.

    The people most likely to harshly judge the accused are those who have never committed crimes themselves.

  8. UMW Grad

    “The people most likely to harshly judge the accused are those who have never committed crimes themselves.”

    And those people will never enjoy life, the most outspoken are those who are too afraid to anything outside of their comfort zone

  9. Thomas

    UMW Grad, so you’re basically saying that doing things against the law is fun? Brilliant. Just brilliant.

  10. Loopy-de-Loop

    UMW Grad, while I’m inclined to agree with that there are many, many fun illegal things, it’s extremely harsh and patently untrue to suggest that law-abiding citizens will never enjoy life.

  11. Diane Clark

    Amen to Loopy-de-Loop!