Experience is simply a resume worthy synonym for mistake. Learning is a lifetime of tripping over our own feet, forgetting to look where were going and simply making dumb decisions. It is this series of mistakes that will eventually qualify us to do something in this world, to know better than another person what not to do. Abby Spudich has gotten a bit of a head start crossing some of those ‘what not to do’s’ off her list, but that should not end or impede her journey, nor should she be stoned and ridiculed along the way.
For those of you who are unaware, Abby Spudich is, or was, the managing editor of the University of Missouri’s student run newspaper, The Maneater. The Maneater recently published an April Fool’s addition under the masthead “Carpeteater.” The edition included many articles with the derogatory terms cunt, bitch, slut and whore. While Spudich did not write all of the papers content, she did come up with the masthead “Carpeteater,” and has since taken a very commendable step in assuming responsibility for the derogatory content produced by other members of The Maneater’s staff as well. To clarify, Spudich was not aware at the time that carpeteater is a derogatory term for lesbians. In an attempt at good humor, she choose what she thought was a less-harmful innuendo that was a clever opposite to the typical “Maneater” masthead.
The decisions made in producing the content of the April Fools addition were thoughtless, crass, ignorant and could have been avoided, but that is not what I am here to hype on. Spudich and The Maneater have received local and even national critique and humiliation. Spudich had written a very respectable apology letter outlining the steps The Maneater was going to take to prevent this sort of offense from ever occurring again. However, that was not sufficient for the public and she was recently forced to resign. And now, the MU is conducting a hearing to debate possible expulsion for Spudich.
What I would like to take the time to remind everyone of is what The Maneater actually is. The Maneater is a STUDENT newspaper and Spudich is a STUDENT managing editor. Yes, she does have to face the consequences of her actions, and I do feel resignation is an appropriate action. However, I find even the consideration of expulsion to be an absolutely wrong on MU’s part.
Spudich did exactly what we were encourage to do from day we stepped foot in this university, get experience. Left and right we were told to take on leadership roles, to try new things and to not be afraid to make mistakes. By expelling or even considering expulsion of Spudich MU is setting a very disappointing precedent. MU should not be discouraging the strive for experience by instilling such a great fear of mistake.
Spudich did not act with any malicious intent. Her actions were not a hate crime against women or the LGBT community; they were simply a lack of good judgment. She is 19-years-old and running a paper also staffed by 18 and 19-year-olds. Spudich took this position not because it was required of her, but because she wanted to gain more experience as an editor. Does MU have the right to revoke that position and require an apology letter? Of cores, their reputation is at stake here too. However, expelling someone for a mistake is counter productive to the ideals they are attempting to instill in us. We are taught to learn from our mistakes, but how can we do that if our resources for learning are stripped because of our mistakes?