I don’t think the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” has ever registered more than the week the Knights of Gonzaga article hit the front page of The Bulletin.
Every time I found myself walking through an entrance to the Hemmingson Center, or any other academic building, I would be greeted by the same staged image on the newspaper stand. Additionally, I was approached by many people who offered their apologies.
As I re-evaluate my reaction to the story, I have to admit the article itself wasn’t what seemed to discomfort me. Throughout the majority of my summer, Joey Thompson, the author of the article, had reached out respectfully asking for comments and details on the Knights investigation and appeal process.
Though some of the details were mixed and skewed (regarding an anonymous Knight and details that reference alcohol and College Hall Night), the real problem was what our organization had manifested from the front page image.
To begin, I would argue the image promotes a false bias about Knights and college students in general.
Gonzaga’s most recent participation in the 2016 National Health Assessment Survey addresses this common misconception by reporting that our community believes 97 percent of students on campus have used alcohol in the last 30 days. In actuality, only 77 percent of students participated in such behaviors.
There is an awareness that behaviors from some of our members were brought to the attention of Student Life and the Office of Community Standards. However, when publishing a story on alcohol violations, The Bulletin has a responsibility to reference the Center for Cura Personalis, or any other academic data, instead of turning toward the false and hasty generalization the photo promotes.
The reality of the matter is that not all Knights of Gonzaga violated the student code of conduct and/or violated the university’s rules on alcohol. Applying negative fraternal connotations to the entirety of all its members overshadows the positive contributions our club has made as a whole.
Though the findings of the Office of Community Standards are shared, which Knights are being held accountable for, I find it important to state the positive attributes of the entire organization that were chosen to be omitted in the article.
For starters, the total sum of money raised and donated this year was close to $30,000. Our annual Knights and Setons Charity Auction raised just over $22,000, and all profits were donated to the Artisans in Spokane. In the spring, our annual Charity Ball raised roughly $7,000, which was entirely donated to the GUSR organization.
The total number of community hours served by the Knights is 1,770. Various service events include, but are not limited to, working with Catholic Charities through their yard cleanup program, purchasing and gathering coats for the homeless, working with Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, multiple early morning Logan neighborhood cleanups and collecting food donations for Campus Kitchens.
In addition, the large majority of hours working with Artisans should not be overlooked. In these weekly two-hour sessions, each individual would be paired with a person of disability.
Although I list these events in a manner of quantities of hours, the time and relationships we have worked to build in our community should not be measured by a number and does not represent the growth we have all individually experienced.
Lastly, the development of leaders through the Knights of Gonzaga within our own school’s community is clearly evident. When examining some of the roles members have come to hold here on campus, the list is quite overwhelming.
Current and past Knights have gone on to be GU Outdoors trip leaders, Kennel Board executive members, presidents of club teams, members of CLP and Hogan, student ministers, resident assistants and GSBA executives, including presidents. This list is only a small portion of positions that Knights have gone on to lead, but represent the growth and diversity of leadership that Knights has promoted.
As I first stated, a picture is worth a thousand words. I am well aware of the certain negative connotations and convictions that many reached when peering at the photo and article in The Bulletin. Despite the missteps of some individuals, I am appreciative of our organization’s honesty and maturity throughout this process. I am not alone in saying I am honored to be considered a Knight of Gonzaga.
The accomplishments and impact our club has made is an aspect of my life that I will always cherish and continue to grow from. I know that I am not alone in saying that we are all proud and grateful for the growth that being a Knight of Gonzaga has had to offer.
William Hackel was the president of the Knights of Gonzaga before its club status was suspended over the summer.