EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter was sent to The Eastern Progress last semester in response to Kaylia Cornett’s My Turn, “SGA needs to get it together…there, I said it,” published on April 14, 2011. To read this My Turn, visit www.easternprogress.com.
Where did it all go wrong?
I serve two different and distinct roles on campus. I am, for the next week, the Student Rights Chair for Student Senate. The Progress has done an excellent job covering all the “drama” that has consumed the Student Government Association. Week after week, I grab The Progress every Thursday morning on my way to class and glance immediately to the front page, where I have yet to be surprised by the headlines.
For the previous countless weeks, SGA has been on the front page, never for the positive things that it has done (but that’s another topic for another letter). Normally I would see no problem with this except for a comment made by Kaylia Cornett in her recent perspective in which she said, “As a journalist, I’m even sick of hearing about it, writing about it. But we have to write it, because it’s news. SGA members have even blamed us for their own faults. The blame lies squarely at your feet. We were just the ones to report it.”
The purpose of my letter is to address Ms. Cornett’s statement, as well as The Progress as a whole. As I previously stated, I serve two different roles on campus. Having addressed the first, I’d like to discuss the second.
In the spring of 2009, Travis Martin and myself started an organization called EKU VETS. The organization was established to help veterans assimilate into the civilian/student role. The organization has grown to one of the largest RSOs at Eastern Kentucky University and it has accomplished far more than Travis or myself could have possibly fathomed when we sat down at our first meeting with the seven people in attendance.
Last semester, EKU was named by Times Edge Magazine as the top institution in the nation for veterans. On March 2, 2011, Associate Director of Veteran Affairs Lt. Col. Brett Morris, Travis Martin and myself were invited by Madison County Representative Rita Smart to be recognized on the floor of the House of Representatives of Kentucky for our contributions to veterans’ success on our campus. I have gone over every issue of The Progress this semester and I could not find one mention of that event.
On Friday, April 15, 2011, the EKU VETS hosted a release party at Hastings here in Richmond for the publication of “The Journal of Military Experiences.” The journal is a compilation of stories, poems and artwork compiled by veterans here at EKU.
These are real-life accounts of what our peers faced during the time they spent defending the freedoms we as Americans enjoy. I’ve went back through Eastern’s records and I could not find the last time that EKU students banded together and published an actual book.
Again, I don’t recall a reporter from The Progress being there to interview any of these heroes.
So I guess the whole purpose of this letter is to address the issue that if The Progress reporters are “sick of hearing about it, and writing about it,” I wanted to show that there are plenty of other news-worthy leads out there.
Reporters seem to rely on SGA because it’s an easy story; there is always drama there. And I don’t blame them. If it’s there, then why not jump on it? However, at the end of the day, please don’t pretend to be exasperated by the ordeals that you choose to write about.
Matthew K. Thacker
Student Rights Chairs, Student Senate
EKU VETS Co-Founder
Veterans Education and Transition Support Group
Cpl-United States Marine Corps 2001-2006