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The Broadside’s response to ASCOCC’s statement regarding “Administrator ‘flabbergasted’ by ASCOCC’s actions at conference”

This is The Broadside’s response to ASCOCC’s statement regarding the “Administrator ‘flabbergasted’ by ASCOCC’s actions at conference” story.

The Broadside is an unbiased independent newspaper that strives for the utmost accuracy and professionalism. The Broadside publishes a student run, campus focused newspaper every week, and we only print facts in the news section.  We do this while balancing classes, homework, jobs and our personal lives. We believe strongly in the value of the press to gather, publish and air news and commentary for our campus community backed by the dedication to student First Amendment rights and for open government on campus.
The original ASCOCC letter runs in black; the Broadside’s responses have been colored in blue.

___________________________

The Associated Students of COCC are concerned by the inaccurate statements being printed in The Broadside as fact.  Reasonable discussions were not conducted by Broadside staff with ASCOCC to garner facts over implication, so we therefore officially request multiple retractions.

We would like further clarification on what ASCOCC deems “reasonable.” Interviews were conducted, notes taken, facts checked and consideration of both sides taken into account. An interview was conducted especially with Brenda Pierce to clarify points regarding Vernonia.

Also in an email sent by Brenda Pierce, after consultation with The Broadside, to members of ASCOCC it was stated “The Broadside is requesting to interview all of the members of Student Government that went to Vernonia. Please respond directly to Eric …if you are willing to do an interview.”

No members of student government contacted The Broadside after receiving this email.

In addition, we noted that the Broadside did include some retractions from a prior article, in the last issue.  However, they were included in a dark box that was difficult to read, and most of our organization missed the retractions altogether until someone told us they were there.  In the name of fairness in journalism, we would appreciate retractions being easily read and found in your paper.

Retractions and corrections are two very different things. Corrections are small adjustments (a person’s title, or a date etc) and retractions are the removal of an entire story from public record. As for the dark box, it was part of the page design. That design element was not in previous issues and it may not be in future issues. It had nothing to do with wanting to hide information. It was just hard to see.

First and foremost:  We did not hire attorney Greg Lynch to keep from having to turn over records to the Broadside.  In fact, hiring Mr. Lynch has NOTHING to do with your paper at all.  Document non-disclosure was never an issue, and yet you continue to repeat something you made up.

The article did not claim to know why ASCOCC hired a lawyer. It only said “A lawyer might also help prevent the turning over of documents that show how student government spends student fee money.”

For the record, we are working with Ron Paradis to ensure all documents requested will be turned over together – to you and to the Bulletin and any other journalistic entity that requests.

This is what The Broadside expects from COCC’s student government.

Regarding the Oct. 20, 2010 issue of The Broadside article title, “Administrator “flabbergasted” by ASCOCC’s actions at conference” written by Eric Ercanbrack, Tobey Veenstra and Kirsteen Wolf. The following items were misrepresented, not factual, and taken out of context despite clarification of facts and interviews.

Quote: “Some left the conference to go to the Oregon coast, twice.”
Fact: Members of ASCOCC went to Seaside, the closest town, once, in the evening, to have dinner. Each member paid for their own meal – not COCC or student fees.  The implication that we wanted to go to the beach rather than attend this conference is incorrect.

There are several sources that reaffirm that ASCOCC members went to the beach twice, one of those sources is Carl Rockwell, who is an honorary member for ASCOCC.

Quote:  “Some members of student government drank hard alcohol at the campground in view of middle school students.”
Facts:  No member of ASCOCC drank alcohol in view of middle school students. We made no secret of sharing a drink together as we are all over 21, and many of the conference participants including advisors were also having a drink.  It was not a party atmosphere, and the conference was over for the day.  It was calm and not an issue.

There was never a question about the legality of ASCOCC members drinking. That was stated clearly in the article. Your group was approached by an administrator from another college because there was a disconnect between the “party” atmosphere, the middle school basketball camp and the nature of the conference. We also spoke to the people who help coordinate all Oregon Community College Student Association events, they agreed that there was bad judgment in the use of  alcohol by ASCOCC members. ASCOCC members did drink from a tailgate while children played basketball close by. The camp is owned by Larry Steele, a former NBA star. This is a basketball camp for children. There were children nearby. This has been confirmed by multiple sources.

Quote:  “Neither Travis Peden, community and college relations coordinator, Dustin Moore, budget coordinator nor Taran Underdal, ASCOCC advisor, were drinking with the others.”
Fact:  Travis Peden’s title is Student Relations Coordinator.

According to the current issue of the Voice on the stand, page 3, Travis Peden is referred to as the “Community and College Relations coordinator.” Regardless, we have run a correction of his title.

All ASCOCC conference council members present at the conference (except Dustin Moore) had one drink (approximately 9:30 p.m. well after the conference ended).  All council members were together along with ASCOCC advisor, Taran Underdal during most of this time. All ASCOCC council members are over 21.  We all attempted to go to bed about 10:30 p.m.

The Broadside did not report on the number of drinks members consumed, nor was the amount ever implied. Taran Underdal, Travis Peden, and Dustin Moore were not drinking with the others. This was mentioned in the article.

Quote: “They left and went to Seaside when the whole thing was just starting,” said Moore.
Dustin Moore’s quote to The Broadside was taken out of context. The group left for dinner which was in the evening, not before the conference was starting.  We paid for our own meals, and we certainly did not leave before the conference started.

Quote:  “Members missed the first session and a forum which took place while the group was on the coast. Other sessions were missed as well.”
Fact: Not true. ASCOCC went to Seaside for dinner in the evening, not during the first session and forum.

There was nothing confusing or out of context about Dustin Moore’s statement. The first session or workshop which included “Facilitating meetings, Backward Planning, and Power and Privilege” began at 7:15pm. Members left for dinner, and went to Seaside. Members attended the ice breaker sessions earlier in the day but missed the workshops. Document requests will reveal what was paid for with the ASCOCC credit card.

Quote:  The students stayed in dorm-style rooms.
Fact:     The accommodations consisted of three partially partitioned rooms with 16 child size bunk beds, less than 2 feet apart, covered in plastic with no privacy. To our knowledge there are no photos of the accommodations we were given on the Cedar Ridge website.  The noise in the room from other attendees and the goofiness displayed by other groups left us little sleep.  The next morning, we addressed this with our advisor who knew the group would be getting a hotel.

In an interview, Brenda Pierce mentioned that ASCOCC members took pictures of the “dorm” rooms. The offer still stands to run those photos in The Broadside.

The cost of the rooms was “flat rate” – single bed rooms – regardless of room type.  The cost was $59.95 – the lowest room price available and the only option available.

We clearly quoted the hotel in the article and also mentioned that ASCOCC may have gotten discounts.

Quote: “….in addition to the $840.00 that was spent on the cost of the retreat.”
Fact:   The cost of registration was $720.00 for all ASCOCC members.

Plus an additional $120 for ASCOCC’s advisor.

Quote:  “Members also used the ASCOCC credit card to buy food at a restaurant instead of having their meals at the conference. There were more meals eaten outside of the conference but until records show otherwise, only one was confirmed to be paid for with student fees.” And “Members left the campgrounds to use ASCOCC accounts – funded by student fee money-to buy at least one meal.”
Fact: As a group, including ASCOCC Advisor Taran Underdal, members had one meal together totaling $63.50 for all of us. All other meals outside of the conference were paid by members, not paid by student fees.

The article clearly states that one meal was paid for by student fees.

Regarding the same issue, story “Thanksgiving food drive will give students a scrumptious meal” written by Tobey Veenstra there were a couple of mistakes.
Quote: “We’re working with financial aid,” said Travis Peden, ASCOCC’s college relations coordinator. “[The financial aid department] will contact all the people on financial aid so that they know, ‘hey, you can apply’.”
Fact:  Travis said he was trying to contact financial aid and then went on to explain what financial aid had done in the past to help with this project.

The Broadside will run a clarification on this.

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