Staff Editorial: Maybe We Should Have Said: “Student Robbed at Gunpoint; Were You Notified?”

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Last week we the Foghorn broke the news of a student being robbed at gunpoint on Anza Street. The headline read: “Campus resident mugged at gunpoint, students not notified.” University President the Rev. Stephen A. Privett S.J., found fault with our headline and sought further clarification. We, at the Foghorn, stick by our headline and story. Our headline read “Students not notified,” implying that a majority of students were not, and still have not, been notified. This statement is correct.

However, we would like to clarify two specific points, per Father Privett’s request. Privett pointed out in a series of emails to the Foghorn that according to Webster’s dictionary, a “mugging” is an “assault.” He disputed the use of the word in the headline because as the story made clear, the student was not physically harmed. He also asked for clarification regarding the survey we published along with the story.

This story was not meant to mislead the public or sensationalize the event, but to inform the public. As the student newspaper, our aim is to do what is best for the student population we serve.  If the Foghorn had not published the article, most students may never have known about the robbery. It is vital that students receive this information for their own safety. We hope that when students ask themselves: “Is it a good idea to walk home on Anza St. at 2:00 a.m?” their answer will now be: “Probably not. I read in the Foghorn that someone got robbed there recently.” The student could then call the safety shuttle to take them home, a service we reported on in last week’s issue.

Public Safety’s aim is also to serve the student population; we have shared goals. It is important to remember that even public service entities, like the Foghorn and Public Safety, occasionally make mistakes. In this instance, Public Safety did not realize that their email was not sent out to students. They realized this only when a Foghorn reporter inquired about it.

There was some confusion regarding the survey that accompanied our story. We had asked students if they had received an email from Public Safety regarding the robbery.  An overwhelming majority said “no.” Strangely, a few students said “yes”.  Our theory is that these students may have been desk workers at the dorm buildings. Desk workers did receive notice of the robbery,  so they could be on the lookout for anyone using the victim’s stolen One Card. Another theory is that students assumed they received an email, without checking their inbox. Regardless, the survey was unclear. To correct this, the Foghorn put out a newer, clearer survey this week regarding the “Mugging” story. The results can be found in this issue’s News section, as well as a follow-up story.

The final point of contention was the Foghorn’s use of the word “mugging.” The word, as many students understand it, is a synonym for robbery, meaning property was taken by threat of force, rather than actual use of force.  We apologize if anyone misconstrued our usage of the word to mean anything other than an armed robbery.

Ultimately, the Foghorn staff is thankful we were able to keep our readers informed. Like the Foghorn, Public Safety’s aim is also to serve the USF community. We believe they are trying their best, just like the Foghorn. However, mistakes are inevitable. Last week we made a mistake in our usage of the word “mugging” and Public Safety overlooked sending out an important notice to the majority of students. Neither mistake was intentional.

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