April 12, 2019

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Re: ‘Committee Delays Announcement of 2019 Convocation Speaker’

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To the Editor:

We, the Class of 2019 Convocation Committee, are saddened to write an article of this nature, but we must address the factual inaccuracy, journalistic harassment and derisive spirit The Sun has exhibited in the past 24 hours. The Sun is acting in opposition to the Class of 2019 Convocation Committee, whose mission is to provide a unifying and celebratory Convocation Ceremony for the entire campus community.

The Sun shared potentially confidential information without any regard for the legal or community-wide consequences after bombarding Convocation Committee members with messages and calls. The Sun demonstrated a refusal to respect the work of their peers and University administration despite explicit requests to collaborate on any Convocation-related communication.

First and foremost, releasing potentially confidential information could jeopardize our contracting process with the outside speaker and takes away from the celebratory nature of the speaker reveal. The contracting process has been underway for months and requires approval from both the University and the speaker’s agency. Coordinating between two organizations of this caliber requires immense amounts of time, and this article functions only to slow down, deride and invalidate existing contracts.

The Sun demonstrated extreme recklessness and unprofessionalism by harassing several of our members with texts and calls at and after midnight. Three committee members cited feeling pressured by the aggressive nature of the requests and leading questions. One of the members called our Convocation Chair in frustration after he and his family were woken by The Sun’s calls at 12:31 a.m.

We as a committee have agreed to keep certain aspects of our Convocation Speaker search and announcement confidential, through a written and verbal confidentiality agreement, in order to comply with the contracting process and provide a happy surprise to the Class of 2019.

Here is another account from one of our members: “I got a text from an unknown number after midnight, asking me if she could ask ‘something about the convocation speaker.’ I was under the impression that The Sun had wanted to interview me to ask about my experience on the committee — and I was excited to speak on my positive experiences as a committee member (something I’ve wanted to be a part of since my freshman year). However, this interaction with [The Sun reporter] showed me that The Sun doesn’t actually care about the student experience at all, and just wanted information that we had explicitly announced we weren’t going to give until a later date.”

It is disappointing to see that The Sun prioritized the benefit of one student organization over the interests of the entire campus, also failing to consider the possible legal ramifications that come with releasing potentially confidential information.

Please know that despite our announcement not going exactly to plan, 43 of your 2019 peers are working diligently to provide the best possible Convocation experience for the entire campus community. We hope to update you soon, and we continue to ensure that 2019’s Convocation will be a memorable experience.

Reika Sullivan ’19

Dustin Liu ’19

Spencer Sigalow ’19

Andy Yu ’19

Charlotte Lefkovitz ’19

Andrew Semmes ’19

Eric Rui Zhang ’19