Letter to GRCC’s Student Newspaper, The Collegiate

James Wisner Facebook Screen Capture
A screen capture of James Wisner's Facebook profile where he wishes a "Happy James Earl Ray Day" to his friends.

To Whom it May Concern:

I’m disappointed in the editorial published by the Collegiate in response to the recent attempt by white supremacist student James Wisner to form a  “White Culture Club.”

Sometimes there aren’t two equal sides to a story; on occasion one side is demonstrably in the wrong and attempting to treat both parties equally is a miscarriage of journalism.  This is one of those cases.

Wisner, who recently wished his friends on Facebook a “happy James Earl Ray Day” (on Martin Luther King Day), doesn’t deserve the space the Collegiate afforded him to defame my colleague and good friend, Eric Mullen.

Anyone who knows Eric Mullen knows him to be fiercely devoted to the students of GRCC and a committed advocate for fairness in all respects.  The thought that anyone might, for a second, entertain the delusion that Mullen is anything but a supremely generous and honorable person sickens me.

Moreover, the Black Student Union doesn’t deserve to be put in the same league with Wisner’s bigoted attempt at a student organization.  Your characterization of them as an organization that “draw[s] lines” is so irresponsible it borders on contemptible.  The BSU (currently presided over by a president who is Hispanic) doesn’t “draw lines” – it acknowledges the realities that lines are already drawn for black students by society and attempts to bridge them.  All of my interactions with them over the eight years I’ve worked at GRCC affirm this fact.

Something else that disturbs me about the Collegiate’s handling of the situation is that one of James Wisner’s friends (visible on Facebook), Mike Peterson, contributed to the story. I shouldn’t have to explain this to journalism students, but it’s poor journalistic ethics and puts the objectivity of the story in jeopardy when a reporter writes a story about a friend/associate.

Derek DeVries
GRCC Employee / Adjunct Faculty

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