By Karena Walter
It's an editorial circus of slander at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick.
The editor of the weekly student paper, The Argosy, is in the process of writing letters of complaint to the school's Board of Regents. The complaints stem from an incident in which the editor alleges a school administrator forced him to write an apology about an editorial.
Published Jan. 16 and written by Don Gorman, editor of the paper, the editorial column stated Gorman found it really hard to refrain from screaming "asshole" at the university's new VP-administration, Dave Stewart. It also stated the outgoing VP-finance was a sexy, intelligent woman who has no scruples about lying to clients of the new company she was hired by.
The following week the editorial consisted of an apology.
Then on Jan. 30 the editorial space was blank.
By Feb. 6, three weeks after the first editorial, Gorman published a retraction of the apology that had appeared on Jan. 23. This editorial stated the apology had been written while under duress inflicted by Stewart. "If Mr. Stewart knew when he was coercing that bullshit editorial out of me that his actions were morally and ethically contemptible, then he is, in my opinion, a stupid fool," the editorial stated. "I was a victim of abusive power-mongering."
Gorman said the first editorial was written when Stewart denied there was a security problem at the university despite a string of assault reportings by females on campus. "Dave Stewart is highly unpopular with the students."
He said he was contacted by the chair of the publishing board of the Argosy who said Stewart wanted to talk to him.
Gorman explained he went to talk to Stewart and the VP raised his voice, threatened a lawsuit and banged his fist on the table. Gorman said he was afraid of expulsion and his first reaction was to diffuse the situation by agreeing to write the editorial. "I was really embarrassed about it afterwards."
Stewart said the charges against him are not true. Gorman had the option of writing the editorial or not writing it, Stewart said. "There were no threats or intimidation." He added he suggested an independent committee of students and faculty could have the matter reviewed but Gorman asked him not to do so. "I then decided not to pursue the matter," Stewart said.
Although he did ask Gorman to apologize, Stewart said he was very careful in the way it was handled, asking for the apology on the basis of law and because it was the right thing to do.
Stewart did ask to see the apology editorial before it was printed because he had some concerns it would make the situation worse, he said. But any changes made were done voluntarily.
"Why he had that change of heart afterwards, I don't know."
But Gorman said he was pushed to his limit. "I felt a complete loss of my respect," he said. "I printed the damn thing and everybody knew it wasn't me that had written it."
Stewart said he would not take action regarding the last editorial.