This week marks a historic event.
No, it’s not the time to celebrate the union of two notable people or to honor the erection of a famous memorial building.
This week is, however, the four-year publication anniversary of an article that I believe revolutionized campus journalism. It’s title: “Penis Etiquette” … (P. et.) for short.
I doubt many of you remember this one. Shoot I was just an innocent freshman-and not even a staff writer-an Olympiad ago when this article hit the stands.
Yet I know that whether you read it or not, you feel the effects of the aftermath today.
It was an article that slowly decomposed the relationship between the publishing body, “The Leader,” and seemingly every member of its readership.
Local businesses shied away from placing ads in future editions, while organizations like SGA used the article’s publication as ammunition against “The University Leader” when it came to cutting funds.
Why? Well the article was smutty to say the least. Young journalism students who, at the time, needed a solid definition of what qualified as “too much” needn’t have looked any further. It was that bad.
Honestly, I’m surprised that it wasn’t the third strike in the bottom of the ninth that outed “The University Leader” for good (other no, no articles being strikes one and two). But thankfully, it wasn’t.
At the time, this article was just the tip of an iceberg of problems that had existed within the paper for a while.
I remember when people would roll their eyes at hearing our paper’s name. The sex columns and scandalous news reports put the weekly production in the same league as the papers that line the end caps of supermarket checkouts.
So since this article was obviously unrighteous, why am I encouraging that you celebrate its publication anniversary? That’s almost like stuffing stockings on Hitler’s birthday.
I believe this article should be tabbed as a landmark not because it turned heads, but because it turned heads in the right direction.
It proved that while many mainstream media have enabled reality TV and Hollywood romances to push sexual barriers over the top, our somewhat wholesome community stood its ground.
While people of low moral character were encouraging us to embrace deviant behavior, the patrons of this university and the surrounding area took a stand.
Our university has taken action since then through elevating the quality of leadership.
Over the last several years, you have seen a direct change in the type of leaders, which has ensured content like “P.et.” hasn’t reappeared.
You’ve seen a change in advisership. You’ve seen a change in the overall quality of writer.
I credit lots of that change to last year’s editor-in-chief, Mike Hammett.
Here is a guy who was directly affected by the notorious article as a freshman communications major. But rather than succumbing to the pressures of staff who probably wanted him to write similar garbage, he strove to produce quality material.
In 2007, he took over the paper and surrounded himself with staff who shared the same ideology.
That ideology has carried over into this year with our new Editor-in-Chief, Michelle Ireton.
She too has remained committed to the new vision of “The University Leader.” Stories and columns are now more press worthy than ever. Opinions are valid academic discourse, and news stories are wholesome and factual.
Hopefully, our new trend of leadership will continue to pass their ethics onto future generations.
In retrospect, I believe that “P.et.” was the best thing that ever happened to this paper, if for no other reason than the old adage “things must get worse before they get better.”
It was definitely the worse and because of its repercussions, we are now much better.
I know it is an anniversary that I joyously celebrate because it has ushered in a new era.
And if you like reading the quality products that our staff and writers put out on a weekly basis, you should celebrate this week too.