October 30, 2020

One Year Later

This issue of The Signal means a lot to me as an editor, a member of this campus and a human being.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since the disappearance of John Fiocco Jr. In some ways, it feels like it happened decades ago; on the other hand, the feelings remain ingrained in all of us as if it just happened yesterday.

When the staff decided to publish a pullout about Fiocco, I knew we were undertaking an enormous challenge. As journalists, it is our job to inform the public about significant news and events – and the coverage of one of the most significant, albeit horrible, events that ever happened on this campus certainly qualifies. But on the other hand, we knew that thrusting the events of last year back into the spotlight would bring back considerable pain for the many on this campus who knew him. I hope that after reading the center pullout section, you will feel we were both objective and respectful in our coverage.

This careful balancing act as a journalist is what I remember most about the events of last spring. I remember the onslaught of media outlets on our campus, and the shoddy reporting that plagued both newspaper and television reports. The memories that stick in my mind are reporters stalking students to get good quotes, College President R. Barbara Gitenstein speaking into 20 microphones at a press conference and Nancy Grace throwing out unfounded accusations on her CNN show.

I remember stressing out because I wanted people both on and off the campus to get the real story of what was happening. After all, I could not imagine how friends and relatives of Fiocco were feeling when reading and watching the reports about the person they cared for so much. I was also disturbed that the media used this terrible incident as a reason to attack the College’s reputation and our way of life. They questioned the College’s security policies and accused students of being a bunch of drunks.

But as a testament to our community, we persevered and moved forward.

There were prayer sessions and support groups to help get through the difficult times. Students discouraged each other from talking to reporters, not wishing to hear another report about how terrified students were to live on campus.

Here we are one year later, and I wonder what impact the events of last spring have had on the campus community. As the letters in the pullout will show, those who knew Fiocco will certainly never forget the terrible sequence of events last year. But what about everyone else? Do most freshmen even know the details of what happened?

As this story comes back to the forefront for this week, some people may be angry, sad or just eager to put the memories aside. I’ve experienced all these emotions in the past few weeks, but what has stayed in my mind all along is that a year ago we lost one of our own.

That is something none of us should ever forget.

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