A mentor once told me that good journalists don’t write opinion pieces.
For 12 years, that admonition has kept me from telling a story that needs to be told–a story that happens to be truth, not opinion.
In 2005, my supervisor at a college newspaper asked me why I did not respect them.
I cited repeated comments this person had made about drinking underage to the point of passing out and not knowing where they were when they awoke.
The supervisor responded to my comments by firing me.
I took this information about the drinking and about my firing to two people I considered to be responsible adults. I received no help.
I went back to the supervisor and tried to regain my job.
At that point, I was sent to the dean, who berated me, denied me to access certain parts of campus and later denied me access to the entire campus. He also made it illegal for me to contact any past or present member of the newspaper staff. In addition, I was run out of two different, off-campus churches.
At no point have I been afforded a student conduct hearing on this matter. I have also not been afforded the rights typically granted to other students in such cases.
I lost my job, all my friends and the young man I wanted to marry. I also faced a substantial delay in my education.
Today, 12 years later, I am still enduring punishment, as a trespass order remains in place forbidding me access to part of one building. That trespass order is set to be in place indefinitely.
I did the right thing. I stood up against underage drinking and merely insisted that my underage supervisor obey the law. Yet, today, all these years later, I am the one being punished. What is more, I have been told by an official in this case that I will face additional punishment if I contact them to seek resolution of this matter.
When I was fired from the newspaper, I was within weeks of running for editor-in-chief myself.
This blog is my first step toward starting a print news publication of my own and leading that publication as editor-in-chief.
Underage drinking is wrong. Standing up against it is not.