Letter to the Editor: Greek BBQ Followed Health Protocols and Promoted Panther Pride

Alexander Sutton / FIU Student and Student Government Association Senator

Your recent article “Hundreds of Maskless Students Crowd Greek Life Party” is filed under News, but of right should be classified as an Opinion article. Writers are entitled to editorialize all they want, but passing off an article whose bias is clear from just the title alone as factual reporting is bad journalism. Though the words in the title are factual, its tone and connotation shows clear bias against Greek Life. PantherNOW is above this.

The fact the article was written at all shows clear bias, as Florida state policy does not require a mask indoors, and especially not outdoors. 8 months ago, before vaccines and while yellow-shirted mask enforcers still roamed campus, hundreds of maskless students attending an on-campus event would have been cause for uproar. However, with the development of vaccines and new Florida governmental policy prohibiting Florida universities from enacting mask mandates, events like this are now commonplace, and this was only the first of many to inevitably come. Posting an article like this can only be seen as a clear bias against Greek Life.

The Greek BBQ also followed health protocols. Masks are not mandated on FIU’s campus, and no one broke a rule by not wearing one. In fact, this was an outdoor event, and masks are only “recommended” indoors, as stated in one of the quotes mentioned in the article. The sentence “FIU suggests wearing masks inside, but none were worn at the event held outside…” must give one pause.

If you have an issue with the COVID-19 guidelines enforced by the Florida government and the State University System, write an article about that. But if you have an issue with this event, you have an issue with in-person school being held at all, because the rules are exactly the same. If you’ve walked through GC, over 50% of people are not wearing their masks. There is nothing the school or Fraternity and Sorority Life could have done to prevent this from happening short of canceling the event in the first place. If you have an issue with this event and not all of the other in-person FIU events at which many go unmasked (see: all the in-person classes this semester), you are biased. I didn’t see any article entitled: “Breaking News: Hundreds of Maskless Students Crowd Graham Center Every Day.” And that’s indoors, so if anything, this event was safer.

Masks are highly effective against COVID-19, and I agree with those quoted in the article that wearing a mask and getting vaccinated is the best way to stop the spread of the virus. But anyone who expected everyone at the Greek BBQ to be wearing a mask is kidding themselves. Masks aren’t enforced, and those who chose not to go because they were worried about spreading COVID-19 are probably the type to wear a mask at an event like that, but they weren’t there in the first place. Find me a crowd of college students jumping up and down to loud music outdoors that are all voluntarily wearing masks, and I will retract my statement.

The Greek BBQ was a good thing for FIU, and it’s good to see students back on campus showing their FIU affinity, embracing Panther Pride, and having fun at on-campus events. The administration’s positive push to reopen and get back to in-person classes and events is well underway, as evidenced by a successful and downright fun Greek BBQ, and this is a positive step forward. This event represents a return to the days when GC is packed and zoom is a last resort. Campus is alive again, and those who are worried about getting the virus because of it are free to get vaccinated, mask up, and social distance. No one was forced to go to this event.

It’s not clear that PantherNOW event sent a reporter to the Greek BBQ to report on the event they were covering. All of the facts mentioned in the article come from second-hand sources, mainly videos and photos posted to Instagram by the @fiusl and @campuslifefiu accounts. Same for the photos of the event: instead of going to the event and taking photos themselves, all the pictures in the article come from social media posts created by someone else.

The least PantherNOW could do is get quotes from students who were in attendance at the event, but the only quotes in the article are from a press conference the day before — quotes that weren’t even collected by PantherNOW. With a budget of $280,000, paid for by student fees, the student body deserves a Student Media that does some original reporting and gets its own quotes and photos for the stories it writes. My high school newspaper did better than this with a budget of a couple thousand. This article was classified under News, so it’s only basic journalism skills to get quotes from people on both sides of the story, even when the authors may be partial to one side more than the other.

The article states that PantherNOW reached out to FIU Greek Life for comment but had yet to receive a response. Again, if PantherNOW wanted a response, a much easier way of providing the view of Greek students would be — shocker! — interviewing one of them. Hundreds were at the event, as reported in the article, so convincing one of them to go on record for the article wouldn’t have been hard, if a reporter had even been there in the first place.

Greek Life also has a positive impact on campus. They are among the most involved students in Student Government, PantherCamp, SPC, and Homecoming, to name a few. Each fraternity and sorority raises thousands annually to benefit charities all over the country. At any on-campus event, you will see letters every ten feet, with Greeks populating events and showing their Panther pride while making FIU look good.

In the future, I expect to see PantherNOW sending reporters to the events they want to criticize. I also hope to see articles that show clear bias against a particular organization, whether Greek Life or otherwise, to be classified in the Opinion section where they belong.

– Alexander Sutton

Be the first to comment on "Letter to the Editor: Greek BBQ Followed Health Protocols and Promoted Panther Pride"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.