I’d like to talk about objectivity. It’s synonymous to the words unbiased, neutral and fair. As a journalism major, and the Cigar’s web editor, I feel strongly about objectivity in what we strive to accomplish as publishing unbiased news.
We make sure to maintain this objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest by prohibiting our reporters from writing about clubs they’re members of, and avoid adding our opinions into our news stories. Personally, I think we do a great job of sticking to the facts and reporting the truth. But that’s my self-described, inherently biased opinion of the newspaper that I work for.
You may disagree with me, and that’s okay. But when it comes to judging the quality of my newspaper, or rather, evaluating my peers, is it fair that my opinion be the deciding factor of our worth?
Absolutely not. Why? It’s unfair. It’s my opinion of the people that I work with and the organization that I serve. So if I can’t evaluate my newspaper, why should the Student Senate be able to evaluate their own stipends?
In an article also running this week, Samantha King, SOARC Chair, said that she recognized the problems with maintaining objectivity when reviewing her own Senate peers’ stipends. That is a clear understatement.
How can you be objective when examining the people that you plan on sharing a house with in Bonnet Shores next year? Or to the people that you share half-priced apps with at Applebee’s after your Wednesday night meetings? There’s absolutely no way you can.
There’s a reason the U.S. government has three different branches that serve as a checks and balances system. There’s a reason URI hires an outside company to calculate our student evaluations at the end of the semester. There’s a reason why Student Senate evaluated each organization’s stipends rather than have each organization review them internally.
If this is going to be an annual, mandatory event, there needs to be some changes. If each Senate-funded organization has to sit in front of a group of five strangers, present a packet of evidence describing their worth and have the votes that determine their future read right in front of them, I want Senate to face the same treatment.
In reading this column, I bet they’ll defend themselves by saying that they were objective because they cut two of their own stipended positions. But two positions does not make up for the corrupt image they’re putting out to the rest of the student body.
As I reflect on my own SOARC meeting where I defended two of the Cigar’s stipended spots, my own included, I wondered about my own objectivity were the tables turned. I think I’d do a pretty good job on that panel reviewing other people. But then again, it’s just my subjective, biased opinion.