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Ohio University Student Senate

 

Please Scroll Down For Treasurer Zainab Kandeh's Statement Following The Post error.

 

**FALL SEMESTER UPDATES**

On 11/12, Senate passed Resolution 1415-47, which changed the schedule for the rest of the semester...

11/19 @ 7pm Emergency Budgeting meeting In Walter 235

**11/19 @ 7:30 pm General Student Association Training Walter 235**

11/26 Thanksgiving Break... No Meeting!

12/3 @ 7:15 in Walter 235- Last GBM of the semester

12/10 Finals Week.... No Meeting!

Welcome from the Ohio University Student Senate! The Ohio University Student Senate is the unicameral student government of Ohio University, made up of senators and delegates from campus-wide organizations and communities. For a complete roster of voting and non-voting members, please click the "Members" button in the navigation bar.

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President Meg Marzec

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Vice President Caitlyn McDaniel


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Treasurer Zainab Kandeh

"On Wednesday, November 12, 2014 I got a copy of The Post, flipped to the inside pages and saw a picture of Student Senate Vice President Cailtlyn McDaniel, President Megan Marzec and Academic Affairs Commissioner Jolana Watson, however, The Post had labeled Watson as Zainab Kandeh.

For the last week I have been racking my brain and reflecting on why and how such an egregious mistake could have happened. To give you all some background knowledge I too am a journalist like my peers at The Post. When I was looking for colleges at the age of 17, Ohio University was on the top of my list. The information I received made me feel like this was the place that was going to turn me into the journalist that I wanted to be and throughout my time on campus, my professional experiences as a writer and activities outside of the classroom I believe that’s happened.

With all that being said, as a trained journalist, as a woman of color, as someone who cares about the well being of all students it did not feel right to let last Wednesday’s incident slide. Though Post editor, Jim Ryan explained how the issue happened and the steps The Post will take, “to continually uphold the high standards expected of us,” (quote Ryan directly in Friday, November 14, 2014’s editorial) what I would like to address tonight is why the root of what happened is more than what The Post cited as a “photo accuracy error” and what we can do together to correct an error that is symptomatic of a problem that predates all of us in this room but together we can remedy because while I am not the first person this has happened to, as The Post admitted, I certainly hope with your help to be the last.

On November 12, 2014, The Post ran a story about Student Senate titled; Resolution up for vote will reduce meetings, on the third page that featured a photo of Caitlyn McDaniel, Megan Marzec and Jolana Watson, respectively, the photo labeled Watson, an African American female, as me. The cutline below the picture read, “Student Senate Vice President Caitlyn McDaniel, President Megan Marzec and Treasurer Zainab Kandeh pose for a portrait.”

The picture that The Post ran was taken during the spring of the 2013-2014 academic school year when Caitlyn McDaniel, Megan Marzec and Jolana Watson ran on a Student Senate election ticket together. During that time I happened to be running on an opposing ticket and also had my photo taken and published by The Post during this same calendar year. Despite having been awarded the Top Undergraduate of 2014 during the Spring Leadership Gala, featured in the “It’s Y [] U campaign where my face hung in Baker for a year, this semester’s Homecoming Queen and most recently Scripps Next Top, all things I believe serve as a testament to the dedication from my parents, mentors, motivation from all my peers and the caliber of students OU cultivates, there is no excuse I can possibly imagine as to why that photo was approved by several people, sent to the printer and then published online. Why didn’t anyone check? The basic cardinal rule in writing, in journalism, when giving information is to check.

Though The Post had corrected the identification error on the website they initially changed the cutline to read, “Student Senate Vice President Caitlyn McDaniel, President Megan Marzec and candidate for Treasurer Jolana Watson pose for a portrait.” On the surface this is bad journalism. In it’s flesh it may have been oversight but at its root the new cutline was still disrespectful in that it marginalized and erased my identity as the actual treasurer in that there is no candidate but I exist.

Later that evening around 10:00 p.m., when I checked The Post website, the second cutline had been removed but the picture still remained. Though at the very bottom of the online story, The Post listed a correction saying that they had incorrectly labeled Jolana Watson as Zainab Kandeh, the innuendo from the face of the story still leads audiences to believe that Jolana is actually me. For first year students, transfer students and the readers of The Post who do no know me or what I look like, the picture still remaining on the website gives the belief before you read to the bottom of the page that Jolana is me.

Now what can be said about not correcting the online version is that it changes what happened or erases that it occurred, however, in instances like these at other papers, an editor’s note has sat higher on the page explaining the issues and adds that there is an addition to the story but I am not telling The Post how to run their paper.

[READ THE CORRECTION from Thursday November 13]

A correction clearly explains and sheds light on what occurred, this did not.

On Friday, November 14 in the editorial that Jim Ryan did tell me he was going to write after two initial meetings, he admitted to the photo being an error. Ryan said the mistake was “cringe-inducing” and “idiotic.” He did admit that this was not the first time, even this semester, that The Post had mislabeled people of varying gender and skin color. He did state the fact that they had mislabeled a picture involving two black women and finally he said, “the mistake was one that stemmed from a lack of thoroughness from our editorial staff. It is an isolated incident that is not indicative of systemic racial insensitivity.”

I will say that I do not believe in any way that The Post is racist. I do not believe that the error came from a place of malice or was intentional but I believe that it simply comes from a place of ignorance and not the kind of ignorance in which one is not open to learning but simply doesn’t know.

I understand a glitch in the system. I understand late night editing, I understand mistakes and errors because no one is infallible and I’ve made them myself. As students at an institution for learning that is the purpose of education to learn from your mistakes, however, throughout the week I have gone back and forth, even from my thinking as a journalist to how an error so egregious happened in the first place, was not caught and in my opinion not properly dealt with.

I asked myself if Carter Phillips, my predecessor, who is a white male was still in office would they have mislabeled Jolana as him in the photo with Caitlyn and Megan because I shutter to think that it was so easily assumed that another African-American-Ohio University-female student standing with Caitlyn and Megan, without a thought or a care was passed through the hands of many and marked as me.

Learning from the past and looking to the future the question is how do we get better?  The Post is taking it upon themselves to improve their order of operations but I believe and my experiences have taught me that it take so much more than that.

By diversifying our newsrooms, our friend groups, the literature we read we stomp out the room for ignorance to continue to fester.

As writers, readers, peers, students, leaders, faculty, staff, administration, community and global citizens I challenge us all, myself included to pay closer attention. I hope moving forward, not only for The Post but for others that ethics and integrity will always ask, “is this correct and have I checked.” And I hope the answer is always yes. Furthermore in times when mistakes are made I hope empathy motivates us to be vulnerable enough to try to understand and simply write and or say I’m sorry. Publically, myself or Jolana did not receive that but moving forward together as Bobcats I hope gestures and responsibilities like these are not too much to only ask and require but to also expect."

-Zainab Kandeh

General Meetings

Student Senate holds General Body Meetings every Wednesday at 7:15pm in Walter 235. These meetings are open to the public and all students are encouraged to attend.

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