Around 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 25, The Uniter received a news tip regarding allegations against current and former members of the UWSA executive, which were published anonymously online. With the help of the entire staff of our city and campus section (city editor Lisa Mizan, city reporter Alex Neufeldt and campus reporter Callum Goulet-Kilgour), we managed to put together as comprehensive an article as we could on the shortest possible notice.
It can be frustrating to build a complex story in 24 hours, especially when talking about a subject that probably requires two weeks of work to do it justice. It’s always true that there’s never enough time, but it feels especially true today. The article appears on page 14 of this newspaper.
It’s fair to ask, “Why report on anonymous allegations with no corroborating evidence?” The editorial decision to publish this piece was a complex one. But with the online attacks directed at the UWSA coming just days before the general election, it would have been irresponsible for The Uniter to leave these claims unexamined. Investigating the claims, who is making them and giving the UWSA and all other relevant parties a chance to respond is of paramount importance, especially in an age when anonymous claims floating in the social media ether can evolve from disinformation to opinion to assumed fact within a couple of retweets.
These allegations are not facts. Their veracity hasn’t been verified. But the students going to the polls deserve to be as informed as possible before casting their vote. Building as complete a picture as possible for students means letting them know that these allegations exist. It also means ensuring that those allegations are scrutinized, rather than existing as idle gossip or unchecked statements.
Whether these allegations stem from genuine concern, misunderstandings or deliberate attempts at campaign smears remains a mystery. What we do know for certain is that this campaign season just got a whole lot uglier.