The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Letter from the editor

Ken Murray

The trial of former University dean Cecilia Chang has attracted a lot of buzz around campus, and around the city. Though Chang was arrested when half of the student body was still in high school, the testimony of Rev. Donald J. Harrington — and specifically, the New York Daily News’ coverage of his testimony — has sparked debate and raised tensions about Harrington’s culpability and his status as the leader of St. John’s.

If you’ve read our news article about the subject, you’ll see that it differs remarkably in tone from the article published in the Daily News. Why is this?

Before the Daily News article, we at the Torch had been planning on giving the trial the same type of coverage that we had last week — a brief update on proceedings, sourced heavily from other publications.

But the ostensibly shocking revelations in the Daily News last Friday — about Harrington’s University-funded trips to Hawaii and the general life of luxury he seemed to be living thanks to Chang, forced us to reconsider. We decided that we had to find out for ourselves, which is why we purchased the entire transcript of Harrington’s testimony under oath (at a hefty price, for the record) from the court reporter.

Our article portrays Harrington in a different light than the Daily News. This is not because, as some might think, we’re a St. John’s newspaper. We’re not — we’re independent of the University (other than our location in the D’Angelo Center), and accept no funding from the school. Harrington doesn’t sign our checks.

Similarly, our article should not be taken lightly because we are a “student” newspaper.  We’ve covered the Chang story from the very beginning and even broke the news before major news outlets. The word “student” does not mean amateur.

No, our article is different because our look at all of Harrington’s words, and the questions he was asked, provides a very different context than the greedy powerbroker that has been portrayed.

We feel it is not only in the interest of the St. John’s community to provide the full context of this testimony, but it is also right.  Going on this strain, we  invite you all to read the testimony for yourself. Make your own interpretations, decide your view based on the court transcripts rather than what is being reported in the media. We have full copies of Harrington’s testimony available and if you are interested please contact me at [email protected] to schedule a time.
– Michael E. Cunniff, Editor-in-Chief

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About the Contributor
Michael E. Cunniff, Editor-in-Chief
I'm Mike Cunniff, a junior journalism major and the sports editor here at the Torch. When I was a little kid, I decided I wanted to be a sports announcer when I grew up. I used to turn down the volume while my beloved Patriots played and do my best Greg Gumbel impression as Drew Bledsoe fired pass after pass into the waiting arms of opposing cornerbacks. That was my dream until I was about 14, when I realized that I had neither the dapper looks or silky baritone voice to warrant plastering my face all over television (and billboards, and magazine covers. Dare to dream, right?). I realized, when I wasn't plagiarizing Sparknotes when writing English essays (kidding, mostly) that I actually enjoyed writing, and decided that writing about sports suited me better than talking about them. My favorite sports to watch/cover are basketball and soccer. I actually used to be a halfway decent shooting guard back in the day, before I did my knee in the offseason before senior year. I still love all four Boston teams (the Revs don't count), as well as Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League (I talk about them too much). I'm probably better than you at FIFA 12. Outside of sports and journalism, I like The Office, Bagels 'N' Cream, road trips and karaoke. __________ I like to joke with Mike that he’d react the same way to the Zombie apocalypse as he would in covering a major news break on campus — which is to say he wouldn’t really react in any particular way at all. Nothing seems to phase him. Anything — ANYTHING — could happen on campus, and I am confident that Mike would lead the Torch in the best possible reportage for that story. He has already demonstrated that ability in his superb coverage of the Sports section, and I know that ability would translate in a much larger role next year. -Bill San Antonio Editor-in-Chief, Emeritus

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    Nicole.ValenteOct 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Hi William –
    Glad that you’re taking us up on the offer! Unfortunately, we’re not able to post the transcript online due to legal concerns. If you’d like to come into the office, we can let you read our copy of the full Fr. Harrington testimony.
    Nicole Valente
    Managing Editor of The Torch

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    William O'DriscollOct 25, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Hi Michael,

    Do you have a link to the complete Father Harrington transcript.