The actions of one alters course for a generation at Franklin College

By Erica Irish and Emily Ketterer

Erica.Irish@franklincollege.edu, Emily.Ketterer@franklincollege.edu

Amid the developing news around Franklin College’s former President Thomas Minar, we feel it is necessary to comment on The Franklin’s role in our continuous coverage of this and other narratives that most directly affect the story of the college we attend.

First, we want to make one reality clear: We share in the collective shock and disbelief. And, perhaps most pressing, we share in the many fears and apprehensions about how our community should respond. These emotions remain with us outside of our roles as editors.

There is little doubt Minar’s arrest, especially given the nature of the charges against him, will harm Franklin College and its reputation — even if he is found to be innocent. And, in a moment when small, liberal arts colleges around the country are struggling to stay open, this harm could resonate further and redirect the course of enrollment trends and other factors that determine the success of the institution.

As co-executive editors of our campus’ only student-led news organization, we feel it is imperative to set the record straight on behalf of the students, faculty and staff this news affects.

That is why we plan to share public records that aid in our community’s understanding of the ongoing case, as we did in uploading PDF files containing the sexually explicit direct messages Wisconsin police allege Minar exchanged with an undercover officer. As disturbing as these messages are, they provide key insights into what may be a hidden life of a man charged with representing our students with integrity.

These and other documents must be shared with our campus community as appropriate to ensure honest conversations may be had about this critical chapter in the college’s history.

Second, our staff will commit to providing supplementary coverage that provides needed context to the messages other media — from regional news organizations in Indianapolis to The New York Times — will surely share in the coming weeks. This will include reclaiming the narrative so the students most directly affected by this tragedy can make their voices heard when other journalists may not provide that platform.

Students are at the center of what we do, and will remain characters at the forefront of this situation as its effects become real in our immediate community.

Finally, The Franklin staff must strike a careful balance between our roles as students and our roles as journalists. We must carry our professional obligations with our personal fears and hopes. And in all times — even those as overwhelming as this — each of us have committed ourselves to placing our professional work first to elevate the community conversations and scrutiny that will surely accompany this narrative.

We embrace our roles to tell a story many will ignore, and one that others simply cannot accurately tell: The lives of Franklin College students in a time of great distress.

We invite you to join with us as more details are uncovered and as our campus perseveres.

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