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Mastrian column mangled facts and resorted to personal attacks (2)

This letter is in response to Shawn Mastrian's column ["For undergrads, a time for thanks," March 16] appearing in the last issue. My status as a candidate in the past Undergraduate Association elections in no way has any input in this response. I am writing as a concerned and highly offended member of the undergraduate student body.

The statement from Mastrian's column that was most pointed and personally attacking is as follows: "... what the hell does `undergraduate strength' mean? And does Strizzi look like someone who has it?" This comment is totally out of line, attacks me personally, and is in no way connected to Mastrian's cynical commentary of the elections. He can have his opinion, and he has a right to have it printed (just as I have a right to have this printed). However, a comment such as the one above that personally attacks someone's appearance (or anything else for that matter) cannot be tolerated.

Additionally, Mastrian's treatment of the controversial T-shirt issue shows that he should have read up on his facts before writing his column. To set the record straight: When the incident occurred, letters were printed and the president of Alpha Tau Omega responded appropriately. Effective and correct action was taken. My personal involvement in the incident was made clear from the start -- I was among a group of brothers involved with the issue. I was not, as The Tech and Mastrian have said, the "commissioner", "organizer", or "designer" of the T-shirt. In an interview with The Tech for the March 13 issue, I made my role clear to the reporter, although subsequent misquotings and editings may have muddied this a bit. Mastrian could have averted his mistake and corrected this situation by first doing a little hard-fact research and contacting those involved personally.

Furthermore, Mastrian contradicts himself many times. For instance, in one paragraph he states that the UA is a useless organization and there were no issues of importance in the election (if he truly believes this, then his apathetic stance gives him no right to make any commentary whatsoever on the election or on the candidates). He then goes on to say how he "hated" the fact that none of the candidates actually paid any attention to the important issues at hand. This contradiction makes no sense! (By the way, all the candidates did pay close attention to the issues that did exist; and Mastrian could have easily seen this if he had only bothered to take a look at their platforms in Lobby 7.)

All of this, plus the fact that Mastrian himself is a three-time loser in the UA president/vice-president race, causes me to question his credibility as a columnist and his "right" to personally attack members of the undergraduate body.

In fact, The Tech's entire attitude on certain aspects of the past election is in question. There is firm evidence of misquotations and biased editing in its report on the UA debate, and its continual abusive and mistaken treatment of the entire ATO T-shirt incident lends serious doubt to its credibility. (I could spend another entire letter pointing out these instances. Suffice it to say that quotes were printed that were never said; and The Tech edited out portions of articles pertaining to certain candidates only.) Thus, I refused to even comment to the paper after the past election, for fear of being misquoted and misrepresented once again.

In closing, some advice to Mastrian, and to future Tech writers: If you cannot get your points across without personally attacking someone, then you may need to reevaluate your ability as a columnist or editor. If Mastrian wishes to try to rectify his situation by confronting me face to face to discuss the issue of "strength," then I welcome the meeting. But for now, this incident should serve as a guideline about how columnists should not handle an issue. Let us pray that it is followed.

Jon Strizzi '92->