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The GW Hatchet


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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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When race shouldn’t matter

Zach Ahmad says:

It might be more appropriate for me to simply ask one of you this personally, but I’ve got a small question that invites a public response. I noticed in the crime log entry pasted above that the two suspicious people are described as a black man and woman. I’m not hyper-sensitive to these things, nor am I about to preach, but I can’t see what value there is in mentioning the couple’s race in that context. I’ll admit to only reading the crime log casually, but it seems as though most personal descriptions are limited to gender and perhaps a vague reference to age if an individual is particularly young or old. None of the other listings in today’s paper allude to skin color. I could be wrong about that, and in any case it’s not worth making a fuss over. (This is, after all, the crime log.) However, if The Hatchet has a specific policy on these things, it would be worth explaining it. If not, it may want to consider adopting one.

Thanks for your comment, Zach. I am pleased to answer this on the blog.

Zach is referring to an entry in Thursday’s crime log that said a black family seemingly unaffiliated with GW was illegally (and inexplicably) in a residence hall room.

Hatchet editors, including myself, should not have let the family’s being black make it into the crime log.

It is irrelevant to the incident, which has been resolved, and departed from previous crime log entries in which people’s race was not mentioned. Though I do not feel it necessary, let me add that this was a lapse in editing and not a singling out of a group of people.

Crime stories should only mention race when it is pertinent, i.e., when police officers are trying to locate a white robbery suspect or a black person suspected of theft. Although UPD informed us about the interloping family’s race, we should have realized that since the people have been barred from campus and the case is closed, their race doesn’t matter. If they somehow managed to elude police, their race would be relevant, since police officers would want GW community members to report the suspicious presence of a family matching the decsription of the one that was in Munson.

What this all boils down to is that The Hatchet needs to make sure that in future crime logs, we consistently apply the rule about when it is relevant to include a person’s race (we have committed similar errors in judgment in previous issues). Gender, I think, can always be used, since we are consistent in mentioning whether students are male or female.

Again, Zach, thanks for the comment. I hope my response made sense.

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