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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

More State Corruption

To the editor:

I am writing in response to the March 6, 2003 “In My Own Words – More State Corruption” column written by Michael Rhys, editor-in-chief of the Mass Media. Mr. Rhys states that he and another student were found in a stairwell that smelled of marijuana, and a small amount of marijuana was found on his person. Mr. Rhys does not out-right deny that there was pot being smoked in the stairwell, and he lacks the fortitude to admit what the evidence clearly shows. In fact, not once during the column does Mr. Rhys show any remorse for his actions or acknowledge that he did anything wrong. May I remind Mr. Rhys that possession of a class D substance is a criminal offense, and if he were convicted in a court of law, it could be punishable by six months in prison, a fine of $500, or both. In addition, he would never again be eligible for federal financial aid.

Instead of considering himself lucky that he got away with a slap on the wrist, Mr. Rhys proceeds to whine that he was “railroaded” and tries to convince us that he (like so many other people in this society who commit a criminal act) doesn’t deserve to be punished due to a bureaucratic technicality. Mr. Rhys fails to gain sympathy from his readers by using verbiage consistent with conspiracy theory nuts and making statements consistent with libel. Mr. Rhys makes several defamatory statements about Dean Lopes and Chancellor Gora (calling certain actions “insidious and vindictive”) with out offering anything to back up the statement. He argues the university may have violated a procedure, so therefore the university is clearly acting out a vendetta against him. What Mr. Rhys is telling us, is that with all the budget concerns and other daily business the dean and the chancellor attend to, they have nothing better to do than to fabricate information in order to suspend Mr. Rhys from co-curricular activities for a month.

Continuing his tirade, Mr. Rhys goes on to frame himself as a victim of a civil rights violation. We are all enrolled (some of us employed) on terms set by the University of Massachusetts. When we violate the terms of our enrollment and/or employment, we are subject to punishment. It is well within the scope of the university’s authority to restrict any student/employee’s access to university property and resources if that student/employee violates the terms of enrollment or employment.

Writing for the newspaper is a privilege extended to students of the university, and is not protected under our first amendment freedom of speech rights. Could a university professor suspended from teaching due to a drug violation claim violation of his first amendment rights? Of course not; it would be absurd. By choosing to commit a criminal act we knowingly risk the forfeiture of certain daily activities and privileges.

In the most mind-blowing paragraph I have seen in a long time, Mr. Rhys closes by comparing himself to a Jew being sent to the “gas chamber” by “fascists” who want to “gun [him] down”! One month’s suspension of co-curricular activities is not in the same ballpark as being sent to Auschwitz; it’s outrageous and severely insults the reader’s intelligence. Where does the hyperbole stop and objectivity begin?

There may be some validity to Mr. Rhys’s accusations against the school’s administration, but he fails to make a rational argument, exposing his own personal agenda against the administration through the sensationalistic slant of his narrative. Mr. Rhys’s column not only calls into question his journalistic integrity, but the integrity of every issue of The Mass Media published while Mr. Rhys was or is Editor-in-Chief. If The Mass Media is to remain relevant, it must move away from the socialist bias that has become the trademark of the paper under Mr. Rhys’s watch.

Sincerely,Wayne Tucker