EDITORIAL: Be skeptical of rumors, thoroughly check facts


Graphic Paige Morse

The Issue Six editorial’s statements about the senior ball contained unverified information instead of carefully checked facts confirmed by many sources.

We made a mistake because we listened to rumors instead of skeptically stopping and checking the facts.

It was brought to our attention that our Issue Six editorial, “Pity the penguins: end of year festivities should not harm,” included statements that were not factual, but were instead rumors perpetuated by students and faculty members alike. We did not go through the crucial process of fact-checking with this piece as extensively as we should have and we sincerely apologize for any rumors we further spread by the publication of this editorial.

After feedback from faculty members, we embarked on a four day fact-checking mission to clarify, correct and dispel any rumors we presented. We spoke with both Class of 2017 advisers, world languages teacher Shawn Staines and social studies Department Chair Brittany Burns, four faculty members who chaperoned the senior ball, and Vice Principal Paul DiDomenico, who also chaperoned the event. We also reached out to the New England Aquarium staff to clarify some facts, but they declined to comment.

Through these discussions we heard many conflicting stories about the events that took place on June 1 at the New England Aquarium. However, one consensus reached was that underage drinking was the root cause of the decision for the senior class to leave the event about an hour early. No one we talked to specifically witnessed any throwing of miniature alcohol bottles, also known as nips, into any animal enclosures, but some heard of social media postings indicating this occurred. One class adviser firmly stood by the fact that this did not happen under any circumstances. Many chaperones recalled seeing a number of nips on the floor of the aquarium, but did not see any thrown into the enclosures.

Nobody knew for certain if any animals were harmed at the aquarium by Algonquin students, or if any tanks had to be drained as a result. The question of if it was the choice of the Algonquin administration or the aquarium staff to leave was a point of contention among those we interviewed; DiDomenico, though, stated that it was strongly suggested by the aquarium staff members that Algonquin students and chaperones leave the premises.

Ultimately, it is difficult to discern what actually occurred that night, but we hold the blame for perpetuating any rumors regarding this event. As journalists, we realize that it is our duty to dispel rumors and to take the time to speak with sources to get the facts straight. The work we did after the fact should have been done before publication of our original editorial. This has been an important learning experience, and we, again, apologize for missteps and will more rigorously and carefully fact-check stories we run in the future.

Despite getting supportive details incorrect, we still stand by the core message of our original editorial. Current classes should strive to be better, to have fun but not be destructive in end-of-the-year pranks and festivities.

The unsigned editorial reflects the views of the Harbinger Editorial Board.