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In response to “What if it were you?”

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Illustration by: Flor Barajas | Staff Illustrator

The University Star recently received a letter from a student concerning the ethics of our school newspaper regarding the arrest of Colton Duncan, former student body vice president.

When Colton Duncan became Vice President of Texas State, he took an oath to represent the university. Duncan broke the oath when he decided to drive while intoxicated.

Although we all make mistakes, Duncan knew once he took on such a well-respected position on the Student Government board, he would be thrust into the public eye. As an aspiring politician and student vice president, I assume Duncan knew his position set him apart from the 38,807 other students who attend this university.

That said, Duncan should have thought twice before driving while intoxicated and carrying marijuana and a controlled substance on his person.

As journalists, we are taught to follow the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. The foundation of the code is to follow four basic principles: Seek the truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently and be accountable and transparent.

The University Star followed all the abiding principles listed above. If Colton Duncan’s arrest were not reported in our paper, then we would have failed as student journalists through this standard of ethics.

As journalists, we take on the role of being the “watchdog” for the public. In fact, the media popularly stands as the “fourth pillar of democracy,” ensuring justice and transparency from the other three branches of our government. It is our minimal duty to effectively report stories that affect our university and its students.

Some stories are difficult to write, but they must be written.

My hope is that Duncan takes this experience and advocates for a good cause, whether that be raising awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving or using illegal substances.

College is a time to grow, make mistakes and learn from them. Unfortunately, due to Duncan’s position as a student politician, his mistake was made public. The best thing he can do is to learn from this and let it be an example not only to future student government officials but the entire student body.

Placing blame on The University Star for doing its job is wildly inappropriate. It is vital that news organizations continue to report information that directly affects their communities—no matter how difficult.

-Rachael Shah is an electronic media senior

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