Talk:Alleged Campus Safety Misconduct
- 1 A page for baseless allegation?
- 1.1 Discussion on deletion proposal
- 1.2 More stuff to think about
- 1.3 Against code of ethics, potential libel issues
- 1.4 Another Approach
- 1.5 Re:everything
- 2 The direction of this discussion (and a proposal)
- 3 Just a thought...
A page for baseless allegation?
It seems someone else edited this article before I could type this or make my own edit (and the editing needs to be worked on a bit, in fact--it's stylistically all over the place), but what's the point of this entry? Is there some justifiable reason to document a list of unsubstantiated, baseless allegations just to have "a different spin?" "Spin" is, of course, precisely the appropriate term, it seems to me.
For starters, this entry appears to exist contrary to the code of ethics that exists for this very site (emphases are mine):
- Information should be of an objective nature. Even at a college as small as Knox, there are a wide variety of opinions regarding individuals, organizations, departments, events, and Knox in general. Therefore, your opinion is just that: your opinion. For this reason, subjective statements should be excluded, or at least rewritten to refer to facts instead of mere opinions.
- Edits should be made to entertain or inform, not to cause harm. This includes information accusing an individual, group, or organization of illegal activities. Even if the allegations are true, take a moment to consider what consequences might arise as a result of your posting them here. The Wiki Fire isn't an exposé. If people start getting in trouble because of things on The Wiki Fire, it will only discourage people from using it.
Additionally, the nature of these "allegations" appears to be almost wholly without merit, with no corroborating information of any kind made available, and they are listed in such a way and in such a place to give them an added weight of "fact" that they simply do not deserve based on what is presented.
- On Friday, May 16, just after midnight, a campus safety officer detained two students walking in the basement of SMC and accused them of removing signs from bathroom doors and demanded to search one of their bags. When the students refused the search on the basis of their 4th amendment rights, the officer lied to them, saying that those rights did not apply on private property, and called the police.
Is there any evidence of this presented other than the author's "say-so," probably based on what he or she may have heard from a partial party (but even that is not specified)?
- Late Friday, May 16, after Girl Talk, Campus Safety called the police on an intoxicated student, violating the Good Samaritan policy.
Once again, am I to accept that it is right and proper for this allegation to be here just because the author decides to present it as accurate? I hope you are aware that--in the event that Public Safety is notified to provide medical assistance to an intoxicated individual--it is entirely at the discretion of the Public Safety Building as to whether or not they will dispatch a police officer with rescue and ambulance personnel, and they do so as a matter of routine. To document a bare assertion that Campus Safety "called the police" is specious.
Additionally, even if the basic facts behind this event were true, it is a fact that this is not a violation of the Good Samaritan Policy, as is declared to be fact in this allegation. Because Knox College or its Student Senate do not enact legislation for Galesburg or the State of Illinois, their policies can have no impact on the discretion of the Galesburg Police Department to enforce laws and ordinances.
- In the early morning of Sunday, May 18, a student left belongings in Founders, while computers were restarting, and Campus Safety took the liberty of searching the students personal belongings, without the student present, or consent from that student.
This seems to fall into the "O.K., and..?" category. Unattended belongings are checked for identification by any security or law enforcement agency I can recall as a matter of routine in order to return said property to the owners. But regardless of that, we're back to the core problem of this being, once again, just sort of "thrown out there" without the support of anything, not even the brief and slanted little blurb in The Knox Student about the incident to which I believe the author refers.
- Wednesday afternoon, May 21, Campus security was seen and over heard referencing the use of pepper spray on a student.
This one takes the proverbial cake. "My cousin's friend knew someone who once heard that Jimmy eats kittens." Really? "Seen and over heard[sic]" by whom? Referencing the use of pepper spray how? Are we to assume that Campus Safety was chatting over tea about how much they enjoy pepper spraying students, despite the fact that I cannot recall the last person of any kind to actually be pepper sprayed by Campus Safety? What happened, and where was the "misconduct?" It's a mystery, but apparently that doesn't stop anyone from running it up the flagpole to see who salutes it, anyway.
In the end, all that is here is a bullet point list of inappropriate and wholly useless finger-pointing allegations with dubious merit, at best. It appears to be written as a "revenge" of sorts, appearing just days after some of this alleged "misconduct." The entirety of it does not conform to the code of ethics proffered by this very site, and it seems like it would find a much more suitable home on the author's blog or social networking site of choice. Who can honestly defend this as appropriate to this site?
I'm recommending this article for deletion, and I urge you to strongly consider that recommendation.
Discussion on deletion proposal
Obviously this is going to require the weighing-in of more of the community than just me before any action is taken (Guys? Weigh in.), but I'll offer my perspective. The Wiki Fire was not created to be some innocuous toy - that should be made clear. The Wiki Fire has, as the original proposal noted, the goal of informing the community. Part of this involves cutting through the opacity of the different institutions of the college, whether it's Campus Safety or Student Senate or whatever. The purpose of this page, as I understand it, was to act as a sort of clearinghouse for concerns about Campus Safety misconduct. As the original proposal for deletion (and the related comments added to the content page) suggests, some and perhaps all of the allegations lack firm evidence. The onus of providing that evidence rests on the original posters; that they did not provide it is not surprising (given the nature of the forum and of the institutional disadvantage at which those subject to institutional sanction by law enforcement are placed with regard to evidence of misconduct) but it is also not required. I think the contributor who proposed deletion rebutted the allegations with great vigor, and that is the sort of thing that this page, in my mind, should include: not merely allegations, but a critical reflection, both on the allegations and on those against whom these things are alleged. Indeed, the Code of Ethics from which the proposer quoted does not really handle this directly; but that document, like everything else on this site, is subject to critical reflection and reform (that's the point of a wiki format). I think it's obvious that the page in discussion here needs to be more strongly disclaimed to ensure that these are taken merely as the allegations of those who post, and not as claims substantiated through TWF or Knox College administration. I think also that it should be reformatted as a discussion-like page, where there is an existing position under each allegation for rebuttal, discussion, and the like. I do not think, however, that it should be deleted, because it provides precisely the kind of forum that Knox needs on issues that are difficult to discuss within the existing institutional framework. I also think that the Code of Ethics should be revised to incorporate this type of discourse and content page and provide guidelines for its management. What does everybody else think? Camozzi 20:56, 14 June 2008 (CDT)
Re: Discussion on deletion proposal
I appreciate the thoughtful input, Camozzi; you make some worthwhile points, and I share the notion that--ideally--additional input from others would be very important, if it is forthcoming. That said, I don't think that the points you've presented so far have sufficient to change my opinion on the proposal for deletion. I hope you'll forgive any "picking apart" of your response that I commit; I'll try not to take anything unrecognizably out-of-context if I do.
I would like to start by stating I wholly agree with your recognition of this site's goal being to "inform the community," and I believe that additional transparency in the affairs of the College is a positive thing. Now, however, let me at least attempt to explain why I feel that this page, as it exists, furthers neither of these goals in any meaningful way.
It's possible--though I hold some reservations--that the intent of this page was simply to be an informative "clearinghouse for concerns about Campus Safety misconduct;" the problem with this page and any others of a similar nature is that while there may be a pretense or even genuine intent of informing others, the nature of the information presented is in the long run antithetical to that goal--even when "disclaimed"--by presenting allegations with confusing and perhaps even wildly differing merit.
When there exists a space such as this for people to air their "allegations" or grievances, and as noted there is absurdly little to no real burden on the author to provide any support or evidence whatsoever (and, as you noted and I confess to agree, it may be difficult for an author or an aggrieved party to obtain useful supporting information), I believe there's a high likelihood of two consequences counter to providing a vehicle for a more informed community:
- Legitimate allegations with merit will be diluted in value by virtue of being surrounded by a morass of ill-informed, unsupported or patently false "incidents" that will reduce their value to that of fiction, which those incidents do not deserve.
- Alternately, allegations which merit no weight will--either by proximity to supported, valid issues or simply by the power of the somewhat deceiving means in which these incidents are presented--be given a level of seriousness or credibility that they wholly do not deserve.
Your mention of "a discussion-like page, where there is an existing position under each allegation for rebuttal, discussion, and the like" is interesting, surely a step in a positive direction, and not without merit, but--while I admit I was rather surprised to see another editor taking the time to comment on the merits of the article (albeit inside of the article and with rather unfortunate formatting)--I don't foresee much continued vigorous "rebuttal" to persist into the future, and indeed, it would be difficult to find merit in demanding rebuttal for any allegation any individual decides to invent since, as you stated, "the onus of providing that evidence rests on the original posters [. . .] but it is also not required." This tends to lead to a rather fallacious notion along the lines of "no one refuted it, so it must be true." Again, this does not lead to a better informed community, I do not think, any more than distributing copies of the National Enquirer or active gossip-mongering would. Worse, the Internet provides these types of allegations, no matter how baseless and no matter even that they are deleted or altered once posted, a type of permanence that makes any potential harm they do only able to be mitigated but never undone.
Now, as this relates to issues of transparency, I'm afraid that baring a list of possible, unconfirmed, unsupported allegations really does depressingly little to shed light on the inner workings of the administration or Campus Safety. Your "discussion" method would be an improvement here, if there existed a sufficient community of contributors with actual knowledge regarding these workings making contributions to that discussion. I know I'm being somewhat cynical given the fact that two people (though with unconfirmed and therefore uncertain knowledge of the workings of those offices) have recently stepped to the plate to contribute, but I still hold some serious reservations about how likely an adequate level of that type of contribution is--and again I'll have to stress the point at the end of my last paragraph regarding the merit in defending some things which weren't required to even show supporting detail.
Last, and possibly least (so I will only cover this matter in a sentence or two), I would note that opening the door for "allegation" pages indeed opens that door pretty wide. When others start showing up regarding various other groups, if they indeed do, will they all be considered valid to an informed community or will a line have to be drawn somewhere?
What I believe would be of benefit to the community of users who access this site, and would fulfill both of these goals adequately, is something I admit is almost entirely different. What this article and this site does not do is provide anyone with information about the processes involved in handling a grievance or perceived misconduct by Campus Safety (or, by extension, some of the other administrative offices). The community could be well served, I think, by having access to details on what they can do--what steps to take and in what order when confronted with an incident in which they feel they or another were somehow mishandled. I would imagine that there are a number of people in the Knox Community who, not knowing what they can do to achieve a redress of grievances would possibly resign in defeat before starting, resorting to typing their complaint on an internet page as a form of "tit for tat," which I've argued is neither informative to the community nor useful to resolve their potentially very legitimate concern (or to allay an ill-informed concern). If, along with this, this site wanted to provide information very well documented, well-supported incidents of misconduct, I would concede that it is not inappropriate to do so. I will, of course, admit that this kind of thing would be extraordinarily rare due to--as you duly noted--aggrieved parties can often be in a disadvantaged position with regard to providing genuine support for their allegations; so, this would likely only apply to any cases which develop that would escalate to garnering quite a bit of real attention at the time anyway. The advantage is, though, that these incidents--if or when they emerge--will have real credibility and real strength, and they can include follow-up on the steps taken to attempt to rectify those issues.
That would sit far better with me; what do you think?
(Note: Sorry for the length and any redundancy, confusion, or failures in my editing. I'm going to admit that while I apparently write at length, I'm no writer and that I don't really intend to review this now that I've worn myself out writing it--okay, not much, anyway).
It is perhaps true that, if this page continues to exist, there will be allegations of differing levels of merit. I will grant, even, that it may be difficult to tell meritorious from not if there is not sufficient analysis of the allegations. But we might draw a parallel to the Campus Safety Log in this instance. Dozens of notes describe things that students are alleged to have done, and these are published weekly. To look at the CSL every week may, in fact, be detrimental to people's opinions of the student body in the long run. It may keep prospective students from coming here. Moreover, what is written in the CSL consists largely of allegations - there is no evidence provided to support what Campus Safety tells us happened, and so it is impossible for the community to tell which are true and which are not. Having been myself wrongfully cited by Campus Safety, I am well aware that I am not in a position to tell TKS to retract the particular incident report after it has already been printed.
This page, on the other hand, offers opportunity for rebuttal and discussion in an egalitarian framework. It may be that Campus Safety feels insecure having its actions put under such a light as this, inadequate though the light may be, but it is nonetheless a light. In fact, I would say that the rebuttals that you, Relatively Obscure, have written, shed a significant amount of light on the Campus Safety process. We could take, for instance, the bathroom-sign incident. Faced with two students who refused to surrender their Fourth Amendment rights against search without probable cause, the Campus Safety officer opted to create an artificial probable cause by accusing the students of stealing bathroom signs to the police, who could then, from their mind, have sufficient cause to arrest the students. Campus Safety by itself had no such power, and the GPD may well have had a hard time justifying probable cause without Campus Safety making the allegations.
Perhaps this is an overly negative portrayal limited to a particular incident, but it is in fact a particular incident that warrants attention. At the moment, the only reliable forum for students to discuss the actions of Campus Safety (including the bathroom sign incident and other, lesser-reported actions) is The Wiki Fire. I, for one, want to see TWF continue to give students a forum to discuss their concerns. Campus Safety and the administration have had no problem publishing our supposed transgressions regularly; while the fact that Campus Safety is a smaller and more cohesive organization than the wider student body may intensify the effect of any allegations made, I think there is no reason that we should not critically examine - indeed, there seem to be reasons why we should examine - our relationship with Campus Safety and the details of the institutional power structures and procedures that define that relationship.
Now, as you have said, there is not enough information about Campus Safety's procedures available, and that may well weaken any arguments made one way or another about Campus Safety conduct. I, for one, would love to see all that information posted on The Wiki Fire; if there are any governing documents for Campus Safety conduct, I would be more than happy to take personal charge of formatting and posting them in this public forum. I am assuming, by the nature of your contributions, that you are either a member of Campus Safety or very closely affiliated therewith, so I imagine it will not be difficult for you to provide these documents and data. Camozzi 22:11, 15 June 2008 (CDT)
I'll try to keep this one short (though I don't know how likely that's going to be), as I'm a little tired, but I'll try to address some of what you've mentioned (I'll be going point-by-point, to an extent, though I may jump around just a little).
To start, I'm rather certain I don't have to repeat the old saying about what happens when people assume--but that assumption itself lends some weight to an earlier point I made about the likelihood of anyone taking up the mantle of an agent of "rebuttal" for whatever allegations any particular individual cares to publish. It's clearer now that even you would be inclined to acknowledge that the larger part of the community is going to be of one particular mind in matters such as this, and that these allegations--no matter what their actual merit--will be given a weight they very well might not deserve simply by virtue of the nature of the topic. All that I have provided is information that would be common knowledge to anyone who had so much as taken the time to inquire (for example, locating and actually reading Knox's Good Samaritan policy on the internet), and it seems that's enough to draw some form of conclusion, here. I don't see how this bodes well for the "rebuttal" contribution to any page such as this--I can be fairly secure in saying any such contribution would largely not come from me, by virtue of my virtually unlimited laziness and very limited attention span.
Secondly, I'm a little confused as to the comparison you (and the author) are trying to draw with the Campus Safety Log. First, you seem to indicate that this log is created at the behest of Campus Safety or the administration itself, who supposedly have "no problem publishing our supposed transgressions regularly," but I have no knowledge that this is the case at all. I certainly don't see the advantage to Campus Safety in producing said log unless they really enjoy making work for themselves (does this seem likely?), but maybe they insisted out of some sense of wanting to anonymously shame anonymous people and warn others about the undocumented consequences of these vaguely summarized interactions. Regardless, I think that a small blurb, based on available documentation, about the very basic details of an incident involving an anonymous student amongst 1400 anonymous students is clearly different than a published entry, possibly based on nothing, about an entire group or an individual amongst a vastly smaller number of individuals.
Also, I do not particularly know nor care how "secure" Campus Safety feels about being "put under such a light," though I will agree that said light is inadequate--even useless as anything more than a rumor mill and venting ground. It's at this site's pleasure to do as it likes, of course; I don't think anyone can refute that fact. The idea that pages such as this are "informative," though, I still find to be dubious as I would any such page about any person or group.
I couldn't say how much my "rebuttals" have shed any light on Campus Safety itself, other than what should be fairly common knowledge. However, I'm not certain how the following detail about the SMC bathroom incident pertains to any of those, as I offered nothing but a very short reply about the nature of that allegation, and nothing more. If you reference the edits to the article itself, I did not make them and therefore I cannot comment as to that editor's intent. Though I find it strange, I'll also not rebut your interpretation of those events, as it would lead to something of a deviation from the main topic.
You say you want a forum for students to "address their concerns," and that's certainly not something with which I would take any issue. I still maintain, however, that nothing here can be described as a "concern." Again, all that exists are accusations without any required factual support, with the possible pretext that somehow, someone will come to "rebut" them in the future--and yet with the tacit knowledge implied by certain assumptions that the community is such as to make this highly unlikely.
As for examining "our relationship with Campus Safety and the details of the institutional power structures and procedures that define that relationship," I'll again say that I'm not trying to hold a view that this is what I'm against. What I suggest is that this page doesn't achieve that goal, nor does it appear to be a vehicle even capable of achieving that goal. I've already noted why I believe this to be the case.
Having touched on the nature of assumptions, I'll address the last part of your post by noting that I would imagine the best and probably only legitimate means by which you might be able to obtain any information regarding the policies and procedures surrounding Campus Safety would be to act through the office of the Director of Campus Safety, or possibly someone above him.
I don't know how much more there is for me to say. I don't foresee any consensus between the two of us, but I can do no other than maintain my position at the moment that this page is of extremely limited to no value--and is, in fact, potentially harmful to achieving the goal of a better informed Knox community; I can do no other than to suggest that there are articles, as I hinted at previously, that I think are related but would be of a far, far greater service to said community; I can, finally, do no other than to acknowledge that the decision here doesn't lie with me--the site belongs to its owner, and he can fill it with pages of allegations about every organization or individual he cares to or replace the entire thing with squirrels dancing to Bon Jovi songs.
I think I've given my assessment about as well as I can, and I still think that while you make some fine points about the nature of things that might be positively included on this site that this particular entry does absolutely nothing to achieve or further those goals. That is, really, the only place where I find particular disagreement with you: I would acknowledge that many of the ideas and goals you suggest are meritorious, but I cannot see how any of them could be used to defend a page such as this one. It may very well be a wildly minority opinion, but I fail to see the connection to this list of ill-supported accusations and the goals of transparency and enlightenment which you've identified for this site.
I'm not sure whether or not I've exhausted this line of conversation as far as I myself am concerned. I'll check back in to see if there is much else I can still contribute. I certainly realize that there is little need for a rather verbose game of "should not--should so!" between the two of us. So, for the time being, I think I'll close with an emoticon because I couldn't find any squirrels dancing to Bon Jovi. :)
re: alleged misconduct
"I would imagine the best and probably only legitimate means by which you might be able to obtain any information regarding the policies and procedures surrounding Campus Safety would be to act through the office of the Director of Campus Safety, or possibly someone above him." i find it incredibally bias to assume that the only "objective information" would be obtain by the organization that is commiting misconduct. Right, because campus safety is going to so "oh I'm sorry guys, we were on a power trip that day, next time instead of calling the police on drunk students or those making political statement, we will actually focus on making camous safer by focusiing on Knox's sexual assault problem."
to say that the director of campus sftey is the one who as the last word on what is relaible information cuts off any discussion from students perspectives. what about those students who do feel harassed and policed by campus safety? the wikifire functions as a way to get that side of the story too, hgence remaining objective that there is more than one opinion about campus safetly, as well as providing information that this is a discussion on Knox campus.
I'll just say a couple of things. The Wiki Fire is meant to be a community forum, and as such it is only good as its users. If we provide this particular page and our contributors either do not use it or do not use it well, that is the hazard of a wiki. Deleting this page because it has the potential for not being the ideal forum to address the Campus Safety issue is an authoritarian response inconsistent with the spirit of wikis, in my view, and one that I'm not prepared to take without community approval thereof. Furthermore, as a public figure (at the very least within the context of the Knox community) there is a greater allowance for accounts of events to be published that are not complimentary. If the accounts are malicious, then of course they should be removed as libelous and contrary to the needs of Knox and the wiki. But if they are just difficult for some to hear, that is not enough.
As to whether the allegations are supported or not or true or not and what the power of assumption is and so on and so forth, we all know what "innocent until proven guilty" means. If it would address some of the concerns discussed here, and if others agree, I would be glad to reformat the page to a neutral "Campus Safety Experiences" where people can post both allegations of misconduct and of proper conduct. Maybe that will keep our dumb readers guessing, eh?
As the previous contributor notes, limiting discussion on alleged misconduct to channels controlled wholly by the organization alleged to have committed the misconduct is obviously disadvantageous to those with legitimate concerns to report (especially when Campus Safety is such a small and cohesive group). I think we should be proud to offer an open and transparent alternative to opaque institutional lobbying, and I think we should be discussing how to make this forum as good as it can be, not whether or not we should allow alternative forums to exist in the first place. Camozzi 13:33, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
Re: Re: alleged misconduct
- i find it incredibally bias to assume that the only "objective information" would be obtain by the organization that is commiting misconduct. Right, because campus safety is going to so "oh I'm sorry guys, we were on a power trip that day, next time instead of calling the police on drunk students or those making political statement, we will actually focus on making camous safer by focusiing on Knox's sexual assault problem."
I don't have a lot of time to type, but I just wanted to point out that you misinterpreted me entirely, here. That's not what I was suggesting at all.
I was responding to this:
- I imagine it will not be difficult for you to provide these documents and data.
I was suggesting that if you wanted 'documents and data' about the policies that govern the administration or Campus Safety, that the Director or his superiors are the places from which to acquire them. That's simply fact. I'm not asking you to resort to him for the unbiased details of every incident, in any way. It was a response to one very simple sentence included in one of your previous posts. I'm sorry for any confusion. I'll check back later to see if there's anything else for me to comment on.
A Heaping Helping of Re:
I have a few more moments to comment. I may have to quote as I go at this point, for fear of losing track of what I'm saying..
- Deleting this page because it has the potential for not being the ideal forum to address the Campus Safety issue is an authoritarian response inconsistent with the spirit of wikis, in my view, and one that I'm not prepared to take without community approval thereof.
I wholly agree that the community should weigh in; I certainly wouldn't expect any action based solely upon my recommendation--I merely felt the need to make said recommendation based upon the points I've already covered. That said, the conditional statement provided is an argument that has not actually been presented. I, at least, certainly didn't mean to suggest that this page "has the potential for not being ideal," because that is readily--easily solved. What I indicated originally, and maintain, is that it is not just not ideal--it stands contrary to the goals (e.g. informing the community) and code of ethics mentioned by this site. That's why I suggested that--if those goals are something this site or community wish to maintain, that perhaps this page is better suited to some other venue.
- Furthermore, as a public figure (at the very least within the context of the Knox community) there is a greater allowance for accounts of events to be published that are not complimentary.
I know that the issue of libel has been presented, but I'm reserved about that and not sure that anything in this page extends to that level. I'm of an immediate mind to say that it currently does not, but I'll give it some further thought. That said, I'm inclined to doubt Knox Campus Safety approaches the standards for "Public officials" that soften the restrictions regarding such matters. But, I'm no lawyer (nor do I ever wish to be), so my opinion here isn't based on much other than some light reading.
- If the accounts are malicious, then of course they should be removed as libelous and contrary to the needs of Knox and the wiki. But if they are just difficult for some to hear, that is not enough.
I would basically agree with you, here. The notion that some allegation is "difficult to hear" would indeed be, in my opinion, a terribly, comically weak argument against this page or any other form of speech. I think we can be appreciative of this community--and note that it speaks very well of them--that no such argument has ever been made by anyone in this discussion, at any time. So, in essence, so far I see no reason to be concerned with that notion enough to consider it a motive.
- As to whether the allegations are supported or not or true or not and what the power of assumption is and so on and so forth, we all know what "innocent until proven guilty" means. If it would address some of the concerns discussed here, and if others agree, I would be glad to reformat the page to a neutral "Campus Safety Experiences" where people can post both allegations of misconduct and of proper conduct. Maybe that will keep our dumb readers guessing, eh?
I think it's fair to say that most people, including these "dumb readers" that no one had yet to suggest exist, do know what "innocent until proven guilty" means, yes. They, as I, also know the only time in which such a term applies, and that this page is not set up in any way to facilitate that level of thinking (nor should such a page, in venues where I think it would be more appropriate, be required to). I'll give some thought as to your "Campus Safety Experiences" suggestion. My first reaction is--probably unsurprisingly--that I have some reservations, but I want to consider it more fully.
- As the previous contributor notes, limiting discussion on alleged misconduct to channels controlled wholly by the organization alleged to have committed the misconduct is obviously disadvantageous to those with legitimate concerns to report (especially when Campus Safety is such a small and cohesive group).
This seems accurate to me, though I cannot pinpoint who the "previous contributor" that suggested this is, or any reference to doing so.
I'm way behind, and I see that you've another idea further down the page. I'll try to review and comment on it as I am able to do so (I see some others have commented, too, thankfully). Thanks again so much for all of your input. I'm very appreciative of your attention to the matter.
More stuff to think about
Hi, all. I don't have internet in my place yet, so the regularity of my comments might be lacking. But here goes.
First off, I own this site, but it is not really up to me what goes on here. I have about as much power as any "sysop" to change the content (though, I suppose I am the only one who can pull the plug completely). I would also like to make it clear that I am not the publisher of the content of this site. As a wiki is a public forum, I am merely the maintainer of this forum. Each edit is published by the person that submits it, and they take all responsibility for what they write (or post, in the case of images). And really, I don't do much to this site. It kind of takes care of itself.
This is a very interesting (and timely) issue, actually. It would do everyone well to read about Wikileaks and look at how that controversial site and this page are fairly similar. Wikileaks is a (supposedly) completely anonymous site for posting secret corporate and governmental documents to the public. It has come under lots of scrutiny by large banks and even Scientology for what has been published on the site. It was even shut down by US Courts once (though the case was thrown out). As of right now, the site is down and I don't know why. Either too much traffic or it got shut down again.
I wrote a blog post about this in February, and it got a comment from Bill Thompson(!!!) a technology columnist for the BBC and a general internet guru.
This is a pretty controversial issue we've stumbled on here, and I would like as much input as possible to determine how the Wiki Fire community feels about it's existence. I don't go to Knox anymore, so I would like the community to really talk it out. I'll try to get a conversation started, or get more people to come to this page and read what's going on.
This is pretty important, I feel. For all the fighting for free press lately, this really pushes things. I like it. Tfooq 13:06, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
Re: More Stuff To Think About
Glad to see you chiming in, Tfooq. I'll start by acknowledging that you're not taking direct control of every facet of this site; I didn't mean to infer that you were doing so, simply that you could and that this site could be whatever its owner so decided it should be.
Next, I'm familiar with Wikileaks and I have to say that despite a few reservations I very much like the site and hope it's able to stay active. In fact, I read your blog entry on the subject some time ago, as I recall (I haven't gone back now to make certain of it).
Unfortunately, I would contend that Wikileaks and this page are not "fairly similar," as you indicated. I'll try to clarify by quoting a snippet from the Wikipedia entry to which you linked (emphases are again mine):
- Wikileaks is a website that publishes anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive corporate and government documents, while taking measures to preserve the anonymity and traceability of its contributors. Within one year of its December 2006 launch, its database had grown to more than 1.2 million documents.
While the documents are sometimes of questionable veracity themselves, it remains that at least there are documents. As I earlier (and probably too often) noted, there is neither any document or even supporting detail of any kind associated with this page, and I've been informed that no such support is required.
That's part of where I have a problem. These aren't "leaks;" these are unsupported accusations published in a rather fact-like manner among a community of users that may be reasonably unlikely to provide the adequate discourse needed to keep it even close to an informative page.
Anyway, thanks for chiming in and I understand your computer issues. And, for your personal information, I have not heard about any further injunctions against Wikileaks and it appears to function properly from here. Take care.
Against code of ethics, potential libel issues
I agree with a lot of what Camozzi has to say; it would be potentially a good thing to have a log of some of the issues with Alleged Campus Safety Miscondict, but I think the overriding guideline here is the The Wiki Fire:Code of Ethics, especially the sections on mood and subjectivity. The reality is this page is informed speculation at best, spurious allegations at worse. As Wiki Fire is a community Web site and not a journalistic source, I think it's probably not a good idea to have this kind of material on the Web site. It is also close to being Libel law. This page alleges actions against a person who could possibly have harm come to them and maybe could be identified by the allegation. Since we have no clear evidence that this is true, that that is very precarious to me. I think this would be a great issue for TKS to address after substantial reporting, but not a few people on a Web site. Vertigo700 13:43, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
Re: Against code of ethics, potential libel issues
Thanks for the feedback, Vertigo700, and I generally agree with most of what you've stated (including largely agreeing with Camozzi on a lot of the basic points, despite not sharing some of his conclusions).
In fact, I haven't much to add to what you've written, except that I'm not sure this encroaches into libel territory, just yet (certainly, it has the potential to), but--like I said--I'm simply not sure. I doubt it will ever become an actual concern, no matter what is written on any of these pages, simply because I'm not sure who would be likely to both notice and desire to take any action regarding any given matter--not that this should stop anyone from making sure the pages are free of such material. I also share your sentiment about the potential behind TKS. Take care (I'm typing shorter entries!).
Hey folks, I just posted a proposal in The Wiki Fire:Lab period about separating out discussion-based offerings such as the Alleged Campus Safety Misconduct page from the traditional article offerings, so that the forum can still exist, but clearly as a forum instead of as a supposedly objective article. This diversification would allow, I think, for TWF to diversify its offerings to the community. Let me know what you think over on that page. Thanks! Camozzi 14:03, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
Re: Another Approach
I've only briefly looked this over, Camozzi, but I'm interested. I'll have to read it thoroughly and think it over, but right now I'm inclined to think that your idea isn't bad at all.
On another and unrelated note before I go, I'm still leaning more favorably toward the last proposal offered by Camozzi than just about anything else at the moment, but I'll admit I haven't really stepped back to really think about it just yet.
As one of the people who contributed to this page originally, I can speak to the intent behind its creation and argue that the allegations within it should remain. I base what follows on two assumptions on which I surmise (and pleas correct me if I'm wrong about this part) we can all agree.
Burden of Proof
The first assumption is that there should be a burden of proof for things posted on this page. There is some disagreement as to what that burden of proof is, but we all see the harm in publishing mere rumors as well as the inutility limiting discourse to only those allegations that can be substantiated by campus safety. The requisite burden of proof must therefore lie somewhere in between, and it would seem that the code of ethics does not whether we limit that to the accounts of two named eyewitnesses, published accounts in TKS, or single, anonymous eyewitness accounts.
The Wiki Fire Code of ethics is not specific about the burden of proof required to make an allegation a "fact". It is to this wiki's benefit that the code of ethics is editable (in fact, I just did it, go check it out) and I would advocate the inclusion of whatever conclusions we come to in this discussion in that document. However, it does not specify the nature of "fact" and this, it seems, is the dilemma with which we are now faced, not one between what is fact and what is opinion. It is not my opinion that campus safety demanded to search my backpack on May 16 at about half-past midnight, it is a fact. I can verify that fact with my own account, that of my friend who was with me at the time, a TKS article that reported on the incident, and if I'm not mistaken, campus safety's report as well. I allege that doing so was misconduct, but I don't have any official documentation of what acceptable conduct for campus safety is to support that. It is my opinion that the campus safety office should publish their operating procedures, but I can only back that up with a moral belief in transparency.
It is clear that posting my belief that campus safety should publish their operating procedures on the wiki fire is against its code of ethics, but it is not clear that the code prohibits the publication of an allegation of misconduct being published as such. It is my opinion that readers are familiar enough with the concept of an allegation to understand that allegations have not been substantiated as rigorously as facts, and can read this page with sufficient skepticism to prevent its contents being interpreted as facts.
While it might be argued that the wiki fire is not a place for allegations, I would counter-argue that an allegation is simply a fact without enough evidence and that "enough" is a slippery distinction. So go argue about what "enough" is, and be concrete about it. The value of including allegations in the WF has been documented already, so the question is how much proof is enough.
I offer, then, the opinion that allegations be published with as much factual support as there is available about them to support their veracity, and that support be the measure of that veracity. Perhaps, then, a disclaimer can be prepended to the page, explaining that inclusion on it should not in and of itself lend credibility to any accusation. While such a move is clearly not sufficient for print journalism, Web 2.0 is a different animal. Think about ratemyprofessor.com -- the burden of proof is nil, and so is its credibility. While I can hope the Wiki Fire has a bit more of each, it's illogical to say that publication on a website implies factuality.
Re: Burden of Proof
Thanks for the thoughtful input, Graham (I think all of the above is yours, anyway). I don't have much time to type at the moment, so I will probably be addressing more of this sometime in the future. That said, I wanted to point out two related segments of your post that give me reason for concern, if I may quote:
- It is my opinion that readers are familiar enough with the concept of an allegation to understand that allegations have not been substantiated as rigorously as facts, and can read this page with sufficient skepticism to prevent its contents being interpreted as facts.
- While it might be argued that the wiki fire is not a place for allegations, I would counter-argue that an allegation is simply a fact without enough evidence and that "enough" is a slippery distinction.
It is my opinion, in turn, that these two statements are so contradictory as to be cause genuine concern. On one hand, you note your belief that readers will use due diligence and skepticism to hopefully sort the proverbial wheat from the chaff when it comes to allegations, and on the other you take the course of assuming allegations are always fact, but possibly fact without supporting evidence. This line of thinking leads to two types of allegations:
- True, and well-supported
- True, but ill-supported or unsupported.
This line of thought would, for example, place every defendant ever arrested for a crime into the categories of "provably guilty" and "unprovably guilty." Surely you would not argue that this is or should be so? I'm certain there are individuals out there, possibly even some with authority, who would share that view, but I'm equally certain it's a terribly flawed and dangerous view.
Which leads me back to the notion of skepticism in reading. If you are of the mind that allegations are "facts," why would then you assume that this is not the eye to which the average reader would look upon a listing such as this? That's precisely why such lists can be detrimental to a truly informed community.
I'll reread and comment further on the rest of your thoughtful contribution as time permits me.
This guideline is clearly not sufficient to limit the abuse of this section with regard to libel. Let's not get our asses sued. It is clear that a well-supported allegation that is verifiably misconduct would not violate libel laws (right? someone back me up here?) in that it would be relevant to campus interests. Thus, if a campus safety officer were to be observed masturbating in the privacy of hir home, it would be ineligible for publication in that it is not misconduct (as well as harmful to publish), whereas if they were masturbating on the job, it would be misconduct (and probably still harmful to publish, but justified). I don't know, I'm tired and I don't know anything about libel except what tom's told me. You all fight it out. Just figure out what libel is defined as so that we can put that in the code of ethics and then argue about whether specific allegations are libelous or not.
I'm going to suggest that allegations that are not very well supported AND potentially libelous/harmful-without-community benefit be removed, but only after careful scrutiny on this page and on a case-by-case basis. XXXOOO Graham Troyer-Joy
If we concluded we should act on your suggestion, I would indicate that entries 2 and 4 should be removed:
- Entry 2 is proven to not be any form of misconduct and therefore does not belong.
- Entry 4 is vague and unsupported to the point of absurdity.
Entry 1, at least, does have some supporting detail, if none about the actual misconduct save for the report of the "victim," who "remembers" what would have been pretty important (and suspect, in my opinion) "quotes" from a police officer one month after the fact and then edits the article accordingly (speaking of quotes, apparently I just used the heck out of them). I'd say it doesn't fit, unsurprisingly, the merits for removal listed in your conclusion.
Entry 3 is not misconduct, but at least people seem to have some kind of impression that it is. I'd say it fits the category, but I suppose that point would merit greater "scrutiny."
The direction of this discussion (and a proposal)
I've noticed the page deviate from sensibility even further (that's a personal opinion, of course). I would like to ask where we're going with this discussion. Anywhere? Are we going to reach some form of decision or compromise, or are we going to talk on this page until, hopefully, everyone tires of it and let the matter drop unimpacted?
I have a proposal I would like for you to consider. I've recently posted my support for the idea offered by Camozzi of a distinct "Forum" section to this site, and I agree that a page such as this (as long as that section has clear indication of being exactly what it is--a free forum for discussion) would be far better suited to that kind of section. I think it's a fair compromise--it provides a place for people to air their allegations or whatever else they would like, largely free from most of the concerns I've listed. I still don't think it would be very truly informative, but that would be alright as it's just a place for people to talk.
At any rate, I am inclined to drop my proposal for deletion (and the associated article header) if we can come to a conclusion that this page will be destined for such a new "forum" section of the site in the foreseeable future, and if the deletion proposal header on the page is replaced with some suitable other header indicating that this will be happening and describing the exact nature of this page as now being simple discussion in clear, easy-to-see detail. I also suggest that the title of the "article" change to reflect this and that "Allegations of misconduct" becomes just a section in a Campus Safety-related forum.
Is this fair? Thoughts?
As soon as I figure out how to create a prefix space (or, rather, have time to try it in the first place), I'll make it. Camozzi 22:19, 22 June 2008 (CDT)
Sounds good. If I get some free time, I'll try to work out a respectable header to be used during the interim, and see if you like it.
I am a little confused about this forum idea ... are you talking about a message board-style forum? I guess I am not entirely convinced that such a style will be any more effective than just keeping the page and adding a specific and clear header about it's state as an ongoing conversation meant to document and discuss events involving campus safety that at least one person is concerned about. The Wiki Fire has never stated that everything here is true, and I don't know many people who believe it is. The Wiki Fire is already a forum, so I am confused how making the page more removed from the site is going to make it more of a forum. The concerns raised about the page are legitimate, and I think proper explanation at the start of the page further explaining the nature of this page as a forum to discuss events of concern involving campus safety would suffice to achieve the end you are looking for. But maybe I missed something, as I have not had regular access to follow all the movements of this discussion. I don't want to shoot down any ideas, and I am willing to do whatever I need to do if we need to mess with the site's code to carry out any idea people want, but I would hate to see discussion on an issue move away from the main Wiki Fire site, where it belongs (that's why there's a talk page. this discussion is really great, I think, and should support how well the forum already works). Let me know if I missed anything. Tfooq 15:55, 23 June 2008 (CDT)
The proposal I put forward would not actually change the format of the page into a messageboard. It is, rather, about putting a clear header on the page - probably the clearest header we can use - and at the same time organizing the site in a way that will welcome Knox-related discussion and promote more of it on TWF. It seems to me that there are many opportunities for pages like Alleged Campus Safety Misconduct to provide areas for discussion - the Greek issue, free press at Knox, Student Senate governance, or whatever else. Discussions about these topics in a forum like TWF would be an excellent addition to the site, but it also seems that they are somewhat at variance with the tradition of our normal article base, which is more a compendium of information than a discussion. Trying to fit these two different trends under one roof has led to the problems that people have had with this page in particular, because it does not necessarily meet the expectations the community has for an "article." A new Forum: namespace would not only solve the current problem, but would open up a whole new format for community use, to discuss issues and bring forward new ideas without being concerned about creating an "article." The different topic headings within Forum: pages can, as in Talk: pages or pages like The Wiki Fire:Lab period, be easily done with headings, so no further formatting changes are needed for the site aside from actually creating the namespace. In a sense, while Talk: pages are internal discussion about an article itself, Forum: pages can be external discussions about issues mentioned in articles. The I believe this will strengthen both TWF's capacity as a community space and the quality of the articles. I don't think that it will move away from the main site at all; I think that Forum: pages can be an excellent auxiliary to the main article base, and it will help resolve the ambiguities and concerns about the Code of Ethics without destroying an important discussion and without threatening some users' perceived quality of our more "objective" content offerings. And the code allows us to include new namespaces in the page statistics counts, so I don't think we really have to be worried about ending up with two different TWFs. Camozzi 16:36, 23 June 2008 (CDT)
I wrote the Code of Ethics before this site had 100 articles well over a year ago. At the time, I was concerned about people coming on a just turning the site to trash by making fun of people and being cruel. Now that we have a better understanding of the site, it might be time to re-write the code. In fact, reading it now, I don't agree with a lot of what it says (though I do remember why I wrote it). It broadly protects "groups", but I feel now that the site should be able to be critical of power structures on campus without being concerned that, yes, campus safety is a group. I am also concerned about it's consistent desire for "objectivity", whatever that means. Years of working on a newspaper have made me more and more frustrated with this concept. Objectivity does not exist, but you can use your judgment to make sure a statement is not deliberately misleading. Perhaps that is a better way of discussing the issues on this page. Are the descriptions deliberately misleading? If so, those concerns should be addressed and discussed. Perhaps different grades of certainty for each allegation would be a good idea, with those completely unfounded in one spot, and those very well-supported in another. My concern about creating a new namespace is that the pages will not appear in search, and will thus be removed from the site. It might also give the idea that if that is the forum, then the rest of the site is not (which is not true). The site needs to declare itself a forum, and then explain itself as clearly as possible when it needs to, I think. There can also be a Student Senate power abuse page or administration power abuse page or something with the same careful explanation of how the page works on each, since they are indeed more sensitive than other pages. But separation just seems an unnecessary step. Should we change the Code of Ethics? Or should I just go away since I graduated? haha. BTW, who wants to take over the site? You can say you own a sweet web site! Tfooq 16:56, 23 June 2008 (CDT)
To address the searching issue, at least, it looks like that can be edited too (if I understand http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:%24wgNamespacesToBeSearchedDefault correctly, and unless that is different software than what we use).
For the rest of it: as I think I made clear before, even if the new namespace were not created, I would want the page to exist, but it is obvious that some would have concerns. It seems to me that articles are a discussion, but they are a different kind of discussion, or perhaps a different level, when defined in the mind of those who use the site (most of whom get their experience on Wikis from Wikipedia). Instead of fighting these preconceptions tooth and nail, which both limits participation and leads some users to question TWF's content, the Forum: namespace offers an opportunity to talk about allegations and argue about evidence. It makes a good place for somebody to propose a Digital Demarchy for Student Senate, for example - and get actual feedback on the idea, on the same website. It can be quite closely integrated with the main namespace: somebody puts up Digital Demarchy detailing the idea, and then puts up Forum: Digital Demarchy to solicit comments and answer questions. This sort of discussion, which is necessary and which has little stable forum at Knox presently, can be carried out easily and comfortably on TWF, and in a way that doesn't interfere with the actual description of the idea on the main namespace page. Moving back to the Campus Safety thing, allegations which have traction, as well as various community members' positions on them, can without much difficulty be copied to the regular article if they appear to be credible, along with a summary of the positions taken and a link to the forum page - this also, as a secondary thing, limits the "weasel-word" quality of "some say, but others contend" statements, because we can show who "some" and "other" are and precisely what they said.
Whatever happens, I agree that it's time to rethink the Code of Ethics. Camozzi 17:31, 23 June 2008 (CDT)
Just a thought...
I don't think one of the Wiki Fire's strengths has ever been the purity or single-mindedness of its content. If we are to have discussion pages (or sections of other pages) would it be such a bad idea to include those in articles? I realize that this creates a confusion between "fact" and opinion, but one that could be partially alleviated by one of those banner things to delineate some discussion.
Then again, maybe what we really need is a message board. Wiki is a slippery format for discussion.
Having those sorts of discussions inline with articles seems to me to be cluttered and disorganized. If we can make a basically infinite number of articles, and a large number of namespaces by which to classify some of those, then we make it a lot easier for people to find what they need, even as TWF matures and takes on more and more information, and in that sense it makes TWF more scaleable. Whoever did create this page did, after all, make it a separate one; having it as part of the Campus Safety page would have introduced even more issues. I'm not advocating, through separating forums into a new namespace, that articles in the new namespace are now to become static documents or pure/single-minded/totally objective/serious content. I see the namespace delineation as organization by function: in the main namespace we are trying to compile information; in a forum namespace we will be discussing information. Giving these different functions separate places to operate will, I think, strengthen our credentials in both. Camozzi 14:16, 24 June 2008 (CDT)
I haven't had a lot of time to be keeping up lately (and still don't, just yet), but I thought I would chime in to say that I generally agree with and support Camozzi's position, here (with a few minor exceptions I'm largely willing to 'shrug off'). I think the new namespace would be useful here, and in a number of other possible applications for information that is somewhat unfitting for a more standard Wiki format (and I agree that the larger experience--and derived expectations--from Wikis comes from Wikipedia).
(As an aside--having traced it back a bit, I believe the 'misconduct' entry was originally a part of the main Campus Safety article, but that it became a distinct entity shortly thereafter).