54°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Defending the Travel Club

Defending the Travel Club

I was greatly disappointed to read the article titled “Senate Funds $7000 Vacation to Puerto Rico that never occurred,” in the Feb. 12 issue of The Mass Media. Written by “Mass Media Staff,” this article needs to belong in the Opinion section of the newspaper.

Editorializing news is unprofessional and undermines the intelligence of the readers. Every story should show both sides and unless all points of view are stated, the story is stepping on unfair ground. Perhaps this article was more enjoyable to read than one relating both sides of the story would have been. However, it should have been

titled appropriately-an editorial, not a news brief.

The writer began his narration in the title when he refers to the trip as a “vacation,”-that is his view. There are two quotes in the article both from people who opposed the trip. That is prejudice. No attempts were made to contact me, the person whose name is mentioned twice in the article. Is the writer interested in relating the whole story? Not one of the 24 members of the UMass Boston Travel Club who were planning on traveling was contacted-this article is about them!

The writer mentions that the request was added at my “insistence.” This choice of word represents the writer’s bias as it could have easily been “convincing,” which in fact it was. After hearing the unavoidable circumstances, which resulted in the delay for the

submittal of the proposal, the committee voted to add it to the agenda. The word insistence makes it seem unfair-a nuance that any experienced writer or reader can strongly sense.

The article mentions that the Travel Club falsely claimed (according the Chairman of SEOC) that it had received permission from Vice Chancellor Day. It never mentions that the need to “falsely claim” does not exist, as although permission is a stipulation for travel, at the time of the SEOC meeting, there was no stipulation as to when the permission needed to be obtained-before or after the meeting. Thinking that once the Senate approves the trip, permission from Day could then be obtained, the Travel Club waited until after the Senate meeting to contact VC Day. There was no need to “falsely claim” his approval. Again, not one Travel Club member was contacted to ask about their comments after two months’ efforts were rejected.

It is also interesting that articles relating to student travel (mostly opposing it) seem to be regularly published in the Mass Media while coincidentally the news editor, a former Senator, is openly against student travel through school funds. Yes, student travel on school funds is being contested. However, the merit of the Puerto Rico trip was obviously proved by the approval of the motion in the Senate. The entire Senate approved the minutes of this meeting two weeks later. Their “materialization” online is purely a matter of convenience. Upon request, they are available to all. As far as conflict of interest goes: this is not the first or the last student trip that included senators. While this trip was open to the entire school, there have been trips where only Senators have traveled-also with student funds. That is not to say that those trips are not justified, it is to mention that the merit of a trip does not depend on whether or not a member of the senate is participating in it-the merit lies in the purpose!

The purpose of the Travel Club is to expand cultural awareness through travel. The Travel Club strongly believes that through structured travel, important experiences are earned, and interesting discussion is stimulated, that the traveler becomes more open-minded, gratuitous, tireless, patient and inspired. The comments of the 50 UMass Boston students are proof of this in our first trip to Montreal last May. Over 100 students responded to the Travel Club email for the Puerto Rico Trip. When there is a clear interest and when funds are sufficient and even superfluous, structured student travel open to the entire student body should not be contested.

The members of the Travel Club were not looking to spend to weeks in January in Puerto Rico, they were looking to experience the rainforest, the bioluminescent bay, and other great aspects of Puerto Rico that are not available in Boston. But most importantly, they were looking to learn the lessons that people learn from structured travel. At a time when the travel policy is being revised, such articles presenting a one-sided view of student travel are objectionable. The Mass Media should give its readers credit for being able to form their own opinions by publishing more balanced articles in the future!

Purnima Kompella is Vice President of the Undergraduate Senate, and an officer in the travel club.

Response to Purnima’s LetterThe Mass Media regrets any perceived bias in the article “Senate Funds $7000 Vacation to Puerto Rico That Never Occurs” printed in our February 12th issue. We apologize for not contacting Purnima Kompella or members of the Travel Club while writing the article. The Mass Media takes no position on the issue of student travel and we recognize that students on campus, and in fact our own staff, have benefited greatly in the past from university funding of travel. We feel that the accusation that we regularly publish articles opposing student travel is a mischaracterization, and claims that staff members are openly against student travel are false.

-Editor