The Eagle's response on South Africa articles

The Eagle stands behind the page 1 news article about problems in AU Abroad's South Africa program as a full and balanced account of the incident. The Eagle also stands behind the editorial as a reflection of the editorial board's analysis of the situation. Both were published Sept. 20 and can be found by clicking the links below.

Because the reporters had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Caleb Rossiter, the program director, on the phone from South Africa for an hour, because The Eagle had also communicated with Vice President of International Affairs Dr. Robert Pastor on the phone and through e-mail, and because The Eagle had communicated with AU Abroad Direct Sara Dumont through e-mail and received extensive information from these parties, the reporters did not find the need to futher contact Dumont.

Rossiter's clarification of Toni Sylvester's reassignment, his explanation of the students' assignments, and his response to the complaints about academic work are all included in the news story, as are Dumont's and Pastor's comments regarding the academic work, the complaints of students and the changes to the program. The article also includes Dumont's responses regarding Sylvester's reassignment and students' externships.

In her letter to the editor published Sept. 23, Dumont says The Eagle's article didn't clearly enunciate "some structural changes in the program" that caused the dissatisfaction between some students and AU Abroad. However, based on previous information, Dumont said there were no "structural changes." This is included in the news article:

Dumont said that "apart from a few logistical details," the South Africa program remains unchanged from the Spring semester. "The students who had signed up for the program were all fully informed about the nature and structure of this year's program, and they had several meetings with Prof. Rossiter prior to departure, as well as a copious amount of informational pre-departure material sent to them by my office," Dumont wrote.

As to whether or not AU Abroad and Rossiter addressed the concerns of the students, The Eagle included information from students, which were attained Sept. 19 after students met with Rossiter and communicated with AU Abroad. These responses can be found in the news article, specified as received on Sept. 19. Through these direct quotes, the students speak as to whether or not their concerns were addressed.

As for the editorial, The Eagle says that academics "shouldn't drastically interfere" with the "information and perspective" students may gain through exploration and cultural immersion. Obviously, The Eagle board of directors did not mean that academics should be disregarded, as it is previously stated in the editorial: "academics are an important part of the program, but students should have time to explore the country they're in." The Eagle calls into question the amount of work that had been assigned in South Africa, saying it was "excessive." At no point does The Eagle say that there should be no work or study.

The Eagle's editorial board is made up of members of The Eagle's editorial staff. These members convene and discuss an issue, then the majority opinion is represented in the content of the editorial. Reporters generally do not comment on their stories, except to clarify factual information and the managing editors, editor in chief, and reporters who worked on the news story never write the actual editorial piece, though they may sit on the board.

The editorial reflects the opinion of the majority of the board members. The point that says, "AU Abroad may suffer from systemic disorganization" is based on the board member's analysis of the South Africa situation as well as the experiences of several board members who went abroad through AU. Also, since the publication of this story, The Eagle has received e-mails from other students mentioning similar problems.

Regarding the AU Abroad advertisement, The Eagle remains regretful of the error. The AU Abroad office had sent The Eagle two advertisements, and The Eagle did not properly distinguish between the two. The ad from last year, which was mistakenly published Sept. 20, had been by AU Abroad sent in a Sept. 14 e-mail with the subject line "Fw: new ad for AU Abroad." The ad for this year, sent Sept. 15 in an e-mail with the subject line "ad booking," was printed Sept. 23. The Eagle maintains our position of taking responsibility for the advertisement sincerely apologizes for the error and any confusion it may have caused.

If anyone has questions about the issue or would like to write a letter to the editor or opinion piece, please contact Editor@TheEagleOnline.com or x1402.

http://www.theeagleonline.com/news/2004/09/20/News/Some-In.Aus.South.Africa.Program.Claim.Disorganization.Insensitivity-723828.shtml

http://www.theeagleonline.com/news/2004/09/20/Opinions/Trouble.Abroad-723833.shtml

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