Last week, an Australian journalism student at SUNY Oswego got into hot water after allegedly breaking multiple codes of conduct at the college.
Alex Myers was tasked with writing a profile piece of a public figure in the Oswego area and chose their Div. III hockey coach Ed Gosek. In his attempt to write a well-rounded piece, Myers contacted rival coaches around the league and asked them to respond to a few run-of-the-mill questions about the coach, which didn’t raise any eyebrows.
However, the ending of Myers’ email sparked controversy.
Myers, in an attempt to gain candid and honest responses from the coaches, ended his email with: “Be as forthcoming as you like, what you say about Mr. Gosek does not have to be positive.”
What transpired afterwards is troubling for any college journalist.
The day after sending the email, Myers was suspended from Oswego indefinitely, told to remove all of his belongings from his residence hall and was subject to arrest if he entered any of the campus buildings. Why? Because he allegedly violated the university’s code of conduct.
Among Myers’ charges was a section of the code that covers “harassment, intimidation, stalking, domestic violence, or creating a hostile environment through discrimination or bias toward any individual or group,” and even more disturbing —“invasion of privacy.”
As journalists, we are expected to print the truth. From Myers’ email, it is clear he was not attempting to “take down” Gosek — in fact, he was attempting to add depth to a profile piece instead of gushing about the coach in a PR-like fashion that unfortunately seems to have become a norm for those types of pieces.
His question was not inflammatory, didn’t invite harsh response and in no way is close to defamation, and only offered his sources the chance to be honest.
Stand strong, Alex. Journalism, the first amendment and common sense are on your side on this one. Oswego reacted in a way that is frankly embarrassing for any institution and you will come out on top.