(deputymetroeditor)– In the time since I posted “Peter Uvin, Masturbator?” on this website, I have had several conversations about the article and the controversy it provoked. I published the article because the incident it described was a newsworthy story. However, I should have taken a different approach in doing so. Making clear why I thought this story was important and highlighting the issues that it raised would have encouraged a more productive discussion about the issues behind the story instead of the wild speculation about my supposed anti-masturbation agenda that occurred in its place. Ironically, my attempt to leave my personal opinions out of the story probably created more controversy than if I had included them in the article.
I had chosen to write the article in (what I thought was) an “objective and unbiased” tone because I knew that masturbation is a controversial subject at the College. I wanted to separate the story from my personal views on jerkin’ the gherkin because I thought doing so would benefit discussion on the real issue behind the story—the regulative vacuum in which an administrator flogging the dolphin exists—rather than my own beliefs about the masturbation question, especially since I don’t have a particularly strong opinion on the matter. I purposefully attempted to include various administrators’ side of the story and emailed them a partial draft to ensure that they thought I was being accurate and fair, and I refrained from any editorializing in the article (in contrast to previous investigative pieces I have written for this site). Throughout the whole process, I made every effort to produce a balanced narrative that included a range of perspectives on the incident.
This strategy obviously failed. Judging by the comments, a significant number of students and alumni believe that I am either an anti-five knuckle shuffle fanatic with a large axe to grind or a sordid trader in salacious gossip. Neither description fits reality, but this ill-founded conjecture ultimately distracted people from my real purpose in writing this story. This was in some ways my fault—by not stating explicitly why I wrote this article, I left people guessing about what I really thought about charming the snake instead of debating the issues I hoped to raise.
To be explicit about my “agenda” in writing this article, I think that the lack of oversight of administrators roping the pony creates circumstances—such as the one discussed in the article—in which the College is unable to respond to potentially groundbreaking student inquiry in a timely fashion. Additionally, I think there has been an unjustified taboo on discussing the role of playing pocket pool in creating a campus culture in which waiting around for email responses occurs on a far too frequent basis; holding the sausage hostage obviously isn’t the root of all evil, but the regulative vacuum in which it exists necessarily begets inconvenient situations. The response to this doesn’t have to be the outright banning of going to the palm prom, but we have to figure out how to address this problem if we want to make real progress towards a better campus community.
I should also note that my purpose in writing this article was never to attack Peter Uvin or the other administrators involved. While I think that the decision to not respond to my email for almost two hours failed to account for the potential effects that it could have had, the administrators involved appear to have taken precautions to ensure that they check their inboxes before engaging in some hand to glans combat in the future. Their actions, however, highlighted the problem I discussed above—what if they hadn’t taken those precautions?
To make a long story short, I made one mistake by not being explicit about my reasons for writing the article, and I made another by not being upfront about the fact that I like applying the hand brake as much as the next guy. For those I apologize, but I do not in any way regret publishing the article. This incident highlighted a gap in the College’s ability to aid its students in criticizing its own decisions, and it showed that the unregulated nature of fiddling the flesh flute can create potentially dangerous situations in which the students cannot meet their deadlines. Those reasons alone made it worth publishing.