Editorial | Drunk, adolescent antics will now go unnamed in Police Beat
Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 01:10
If you are one of the “lucky” few to have seen your first and last name on the left side of the Community Page, you probably will be happy to hear the Police Beat policy at TMS has been changed.
The Editorial Board of The Miami Student has decided suspects’ names should no longer be included in the Police Beat column.
The decision was made after consulting with multiple parties and investigating a handful of viewpoints, including those of the Oxford Police Department (OPD), a defense attorney and the Miami University Office of Student Wellness.
Some have raised questions about usefulness or necessity of the Police Beat.
In a commentary submitted in 2010, a graduate assistant at the Department of Kinesiology and Health Ian Cramer said, “As if students weren’t embarrassed enough to deal with the police, be arrested, possibly jailed and reprimanded by their parents, they have to read about the story in The Miami Student along with 17,000 other students, professors and staff members.” Also saying, “Stories of this nature that mention specific names and details are embarrassing, not informative.”
Others believe it is a vital “scare tactic” for students, encouraging them to think before they drink. In a Miami Student online poll, 67 percent of participants believed names should be included. While the remaining 33 percent did not think they should be included.
Overall, this decision came down to our responsibility as a publication. While the fear of embarrassment of having your name published in the Police Beat may serve as a deterrent to crime, according to OPD, we do not believe this is our prerogative.
The Police Beat has served as a mainly anecdotal installment in the Community section for years, which brings us to our next point. Students come to Miami University with the intention of making their way into the real world after they graduate. They are here to make a name for themselves and get a job.
We do not want students to start off in the professional world with a publicized criminal record that may have simply been the result of a stupid mistake they made their first year of college during the first time they were away from home.
Students come in at a point in their life when mistakes are common as they adjust to a radically new environment and culture. Though there is no real excuse for breaking a law, we have no real excuse for printing their names along with their crimes with the product being a snappy vignette.
Though we have made it our policy to remove full names from the Police Beats, we do maintain the right to include gender, year in school, major or any more general information or demographics included in the police report.
We also reserve the right to include names in more in-depth stories that are based off of police reports that will run in other sections of the paper.
The selection of which will be at our discretion.
As is evident in the front page story of today’s issue, the Police Beat means different things to different people. It is difficult to appease some without agitating others.
The Miami Student staff has taken the time to contemplate this policy change. We have come to the decision that it is in the best interest of Miami University and its students to protect individuals’ identities.