Local private school papers offer input on recent cheating incident

Student newspapers at Crossroads School, Campbell Hall and Marlborough School covered the drug and cheating expulsions at Harvard-Westlake in recent issues.

The Marlborough School newspaper, The UltraViolet, published a pro-con opinion page about the rights of student newspapers, using the Chronicle as an example of a student publication that honestly covered incidents plaguing the school.

Editor in Chief Lorraine Lee argued against censorship, affirming that student newspapers should have the right to report any news.

Lee’s article cited both the recent cheating incident and drug incident being featured on the front page of the Chronicle.

“In one direction, the stories clearly did not reflect well on the school, but they did reflect well on the newspaper, its reporters and the administrators who made themselves available for interviews,” her article stated.

“The fact is, in the face of actions that were unquestionably negative for Harvard-Westlake, the Chronicle, which was not stopped in any way from writing the articles, puts its best foot boldly forward. Instead of hiding from the facts or the administration, the prize-winning newspaper did what it was supposed to do. Student newspapers have a responsibility, and the reporting done by the Chronicle — with the encouragement of [adviser Kathleen] Neumeyer and with no objection by the administration — fulfilled it.”

Lee noted the increased media attention “The Chronicle’s” articles brought to Harvard-Westlake, yet she did not find it problematic.

Though Lee references Harvard-Westlake numerous times, she said she was actually inspired to write her article because of problems at her own school that she believed should have received more coverage than Marlborough was allowing.

Arguing the other side, Julie Huh wrote that censorship is necessary for student newspapers because some articles could cause damage and it is often too difficult to maintain objectivity as a student journalist.

Though Huh pointed out the professionalism of the Chronicle, she did not agree with the candid coverage of the cheating and drug scandals published in the Chronicle.

“When dealing with a major issue that affects the whole school as intensely as the recent cheating and drug incident at Harvard-Westlake, objectivity is impossible to maintain because reporters can’t separate themselves from the rest of the student body as they write the story,” Huh’s article stated.

The UltraViolet also published a third article mentioning the drug and cheating scandals at Harvard-Westlake as an editorial discussing honor and the honor code at Marlborough.

Crossroads’ Crossfire printed a news brief about the incidents.

“We like to cover news about other schools in the area,” Crossfire Production Managing Editor Hilary Soloff said. “We thought it was an important issue.”

The editor in chief of Campbell Hall’s The Piper, Evan Markilies, wrote an opinion piece on what he believes caused the cheating, comparing Harvard-Westlake to Campbell Hall.

“There was no question that the issue had to be covered,” Markilies said. “Everyone at my school was criticizing the students who cheated and coming up with their own opinions as to why they did it. It made me think about who really was to blame and why something on this scale hasn’t happened at Campbell Hall.”

Markilies obtained most of his information from the letters Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts and President Thomas C. Hudnut sent home to all Harvard-Westlake families (his sister, Natalie Markiles ’13, is at the Middle School) in addition to talking to Harvard-Westlake students and parents.

“I think that if Harvard-Westlake really wishes to solve the problem of academic dishonesty, they must take a long, hard look at the negative effects caused by the pressure under which students are expected to perform,” Markilies’ article stated. “And then they should take a page out of our book.”

Campbell Hall’s bi-weekly chapel service fosters a more close-knit community that celebrates student accomplishments and allows time for relaxation, preventing the kind of pressure that he believes caused the cheating at Harvard-Westlake, he wrote.

“Harvard-Westlake is seen as this ‘city on a hill’-esque school, and rightfully so,” he said.

“At Campbell Hall we’re always being compared to Harvard-Westlake and usually, unless we’re talking basketball, Harvard-Westlake comes out on top, so I think that the Campbell Hall community finally got to read about something where we, or the way we do things, might be better.”