Gatepost Editorial: Report distasteful, not distressing

A CBS Boston article was published online Wednesday night, reporting the findings of a Framingham Health Department inspection of FSU’s Dining Services which included rodent droppings and fruit flies, among 10 other violations.

These violations are not simply gross, but may, in fact, have been a serious health concern to students who have no other option but to eat Sodexo-produced meals – and pay thousands of dollars a year to do so.

It’s shocking to most students that rodent droppings or fruit flies would go unnoticed without the help of a health professional to point them out.

Director of Dining Services Ralph Eddy suggested that the rodent droppings may not have been new – which isn’t particularly consoling.

Many students took to social media to discuss their concerns about the report, some calling for a boycott of Sodexo, others demanding a refund for their meal plan and many expressing general outrage or bitterness toward FSU. Some alumni even commented on the article as it circulated Facebook and Twitter, saying that they wished FSU would stop being in the news in an embarrassing or negative light.

However, when asked about what they knew about the actual health inspection report, most community members were unaware that the incidents were reported in May and were immediately addressed and resolved.

The wording of the CBS article conflates the report and makes it seem more sensational than it turned out to be, especially after Gatepost reporters contacted the Framingham Health Department and were told that these types of violations are not alarming and are fairly typical for a kitchen of this size.

It is absolutely within the rights of students and community members to be surprised or disgusted when hearing that the facilities used to feed them on a daily basis might have had multiple pest infestations – many of us at The Gatepost felt the same way. But it would be a mistake to allow this initial shock factor to prevent the community from questioning the validity and authority of news sources and digging beyond the first piece of information to get to the whole story.

Some students said they wished the University had sent out a notification alerting the community of the violations and what was being done to fix them.

When asked why this didn’t happen, President F. Javier Cevallos said that inspections happen around the school so often that it would be infeasible to alert the community every time a problem was identified and addressed.

The administration could have sent out an email, but it would not have made a big difference in many people’s reaction to the information. In this age of immediacy, where news and rumors spread so quickly online, it’s important to allow time to understand a full story before making harsh judgments about a given accusation.

Journalism and the media are an essential first step in understanding the full story, but it’s up to the individual to take the next step and find out the truth for themselves.

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