On this week’s episode of The Pod, Kylie and David welcome guest and friend, Mia Mattingly, to talk about her extracurriculars and summer travels. From Spain to student government, join Mia as she walks us through the scholarly life of a female student-athlete here at La Salle. Credits: Hosts: David O’Brien, Kylie McGovern Video: Emily Allgair Guest: Mia Mattingly Originally published Sept. 12, 2022
Kicking off Season 2 of The Pod, Kylie and David give their own personal hot and cold takes for various topics. From banned books to Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, listen in to Kylie and David’s start to this year of the Collegian Pod! Credits: Hosts: David O’Brien, Kylie McGovern Video: Emily Allgair Originally published Sept. 6, 2022
The 2021-2022 academic year marks La Salle’s first full year back, with events, breaks and studies following the traditional cadence that was expected from an in-person Lasallian education. While the spring 2021 semester was the La Salle community’s first re-introduction to in-person learning and living, it was very much a bumpy ride and a Band-Aid solution. We were here at the end of the last academic year, but we weren’t really here. This year, we came into our own again, and for some of us, got to experience the school as it was intended for the first time.
Now, as the members of the Editorial Board are studying for their final exams, packing up, getting ready to move back home for the summer or isolating to stay safe during this last minute COVID wave, we wanted to look back on this year, and celebrate the fact that we made it a whole year, not just without being sent home, but with a great sense of community and pride that we came together to make things work in a time filled with so much uncertainty.
As the new Editorial Board found its voice, we frequently commented on the progress the university was making in terms of COVID-19 cases, behavior and understanding, and so many changes came in just two semesters.
We eventually stopped writing these pieces because a general sense of comfort fell over the university, particularly when we followed the city in lifting the mask mandate, and things have felt very uplifting since then. But, being our last editorial of this year, we wanted to look back and just discuss everything we felt and everything that happened in this whirlwind of a year.
Perhaps the biggest change to on-campus life this year was in-person learning. While some of us had in-person classes at La Salle in the spring of 2021, the fall 2021 semester opened in-person and hybrid classes to so many more people, and many more professors moved away from online only modality. Some members of our board experienced their first in-person classes during this semester despite already being sophomores at La Salle.
Relationships had to be rekindled, and for underclassmen, these people who previously occupied a small box on their computer monitor were now living, breathing members of their lives. Beyond this, heightened vaccination rates eased many students’ minds, particularly those who were not keen on in-person learning in the spring of 2021.
Even though our desks were pushed far apart, we had assigned seats, we didn’t recognize each other or couldn’t hear each other in masks, it was still great to finally get to see so many familiar faces and be sat in these places that for some of us felt like home, and for others, would become a home away from home. Stopping by Saxby’s before class, passing someone you hadn’t seen since March of 2020 in the Hayman hallways or checking the seating chart and seeing new faces you’ve never met in person, only on a Zoom screen, the feeling was incredibly powerful.
But, it wasn’t just in-person classes, it was on-campus life. People were living on campus in the spring of 2021, but for a majority of students, that meant staying in your dorm or townhouse and seeing the same three or four people every day, afraid to venture out to meet others, either because rules were unclear, COVID was coming in waves or the risk of losing that small bit of human interaction because you went to the wrong party was just so terrifying.
This year, with the low levels of cases being reported toward the end of the year, the university trying to promote some in-person events and moving onto campus in the summer instead of the dead of winter proved to be the push that people needed to get out and be a community again. We remember meeting up with our friends again, taking our masks off and knowing that we would be safe and just ready to be college students again in every sense, not just academically.
While events like the on-campus formal dance may have pushed the limits of our comfort in terms of the COVID risk, others like the school’s annual Homecoming celebration, wine tastings and weekly Late Night La Salle events went off without a hitch. Clubs were allowed to meet in person again, in some cases, with some even hosting events to bolster their numbers in a time when most clubs are bleeding seniors and not finding any newcomers.
For us, returning to the Collegian’s office in the union meant more than we could have imagined. It’s dingy, it’s dusty and it took us about 10 full hours to clean out after over a year of being uninhabited, but the office was shaped up, and we returned to create the paper. We met as a group, some of us for the first time ever, and were able to bounce ideas off of each other, plan future issues using white boards, use body language to describe how we felt and avoid all of the awkwardness that came with meeting over Zoom, and the paper was so much better off for it.
Just something as simple as being able to have a club meeting in person or sit in Blue and Gold or the Union and have lunch with people who weren’t our roommates made the campus feel alive and vibrant, even on days when it was dead compared to its past peak.
The important thing to remember, is that through all of this, vaccination and proper masking were the first lines of defense to us maintaining a proper campus environment, but people being selective with their social groups, avoiding crowded parties and public places when applicable, testing and properly reporting results to quarantine with accordance to guidelines helped us truly come through to where we are now.
The school can only give us so many freedoms before we have the chance to ruin it — but we didn’t ruin it. People knew how important it was to stay COVID safe, so even when we went out, it was with people we trust, and we maintained proper social distancing or contact tracing.
The La Salle community has shown over the course of this year that it does have the ability to help restore campus to what it was prior to COVID. Through diligence, kindness and care, the La Salle community has properly dealt with the return to campus and helped restore trust in the collective’s involvement in the school both in and outside of the classroom.
As shown in classes where polled students did ask for masks to be worn, students managed to come together with little to no issues in wearing masks for those who needed to or felt uncomfortable when they were not worn. All around, even after COVID policies were relaxed, students continued to work towards helping others feel comfortable and safe during their time at La Salle.
With the exception of one time where the campus community was forced into an online modality due to case numbers, we have had no incidents or major outbreaks of note in the whole year, and we believe that, even though mitigating COVID-19 cases requires just the bare minimum amount of care on behalf of well-minded students, that we all still deserve a pat on the back.
That includes our amazing professors, who risked their health day after day to come in and teach. Some professors were open about the fact that they were at risk, or lived with those who were, and needed students to be very strict on mask wearing and contact tracing for the safety of their academic leaders, and the La Salle community was staunchly accepting of this.
As far as checkpoints go, we made it so far that the testing center was able to downsize and move out of Treetops Cafe, as the capacity needed was reduced by so much, we were able to drop the mask requirement on campus, even in the classroom, making classes seem much more personal and familiar now, with many of us unmasking in front of each other for the first time in years.
While we are unfortunately going through a small COVID wave right now, with about 30 cases being reported this week, for most of this semester, the average weekly case count was less than 10, reporting zero cases for several weeks. In total for this whole second semester, we have only seen about 300 cases and around 75 percent of the campus community is fully vaccinated with their booster.
We can feel the overall spirit of La Salle rekindling. Students are on the quad and hanging with classmates in the Union. Some of us on the Board spent our first year completely online, and this year has shown us why we chose to come to La Salle in the first place: the Lasallian people and community. These people are the Christian Brothers, the professors who know your name and the students you have come to know so well. The chapel bell rings and all we can think is “we’re back.”
Obviously, we still have many hills to climb, and the university itself has taken a significant hit financially and in terms of enrollment. Dr. Daniel Allen has been brought in to steer the ship, and the economic repercussions of the pandemic are still ravaging universities across the nation. Hopefully the search committee and board of trustees we’re correct in assuming that Allen’s fundraising skills were what La Salle needed to pull us back up as an organization.
But, as a community, we’re here, and we’re here to stay for as long as we are afforded a place in our little corner of Philadelphia.
In an understandably pessimistic piece from April of 2021, the previous Editorial Board wrote, “Zoom classrooms are full of strangers — black screens with audio. Dorms are private spaces. The campus is disconnected. The atomization and thinning of society that we have seen in our world has been mirrored in our corner of the world on Broad and Olney. The La Salle we all remember may never make a full return.” Well, to our long graduated Collegian alumni, and to anyone who may have agreed with that sentiment at that time. We are proud to announce that we are back.
On this episode of the Pod, Kylie and David welcome Alina Snopkowski, Claire Kunzier, and Jake Eiseman to reminisce on their experiences, both at La Salle and on the Collegian editorial staff. From favorite memories to reminders on what’s important throughout undergrad, join this weeks guests as we close out our premiere season of the Pod! Credits: Hosts: David O’Brien, Kylie McGovern Video: Emily Allgair Guests: Alina Snopkowski, Claire Kunzier, and Jake Eiseman Originally published May. 4, 2022
Anyone is welcome to attend our writing workshop on this upcoming Wednesday. If you might be interested in writing or editing for us next semester please drop by, but we also welcome anyone who may want tips on writing for news or writing in general. We look forward to seeing you there! Email email@example.com for more information.
At the Collegian, all of our staff writers, editors and board members are journalists. We are all student journalists who have a limited amount of time to put into our writing and our research, but we are journalists nonetheless. We are journalists because we find information, we synthesize it, commentate on it and present it in written word to an audience waiting to learn. We are the first to admit that our synthesis of information is from a unique perspective as the students of the university and that our limited time and the size of our staff limits our abilities to investigate in some cases. But, we strive to always present information to our audience in a way that reflects both the truth, and in cases where appropriate, our perspective.
Just as we are journalists who deliver this information to the readers in the capacity we have available to us, all of us have the ability to both interpret information and deliver it to others. The ideas of journalistic ethics and integrity are hot button issues, especially when discussing the modern media landscape, but in a way we all should strive to uphold that integrity.
We as a people have an innate desire to learn, to acquire information about the things we do not understand in order to make them fit with our personal understanding of the world. When we seek out information, we would like to suggest and explain why it may be in your best interest to find sources and stories that can enrich your knowledge on a certain topic more deeply, rather than inform you shallowly about several different topics.
The Context Problem
Increasingly, rapid-fire news feeds and bite sized looks into the 24 hour news cycle are all too common. Social media, digestible news apps, headline skimming and even word of mouth will bring us to awareness on topics touching on everything from the war in Ukraine to the world of sports to celebrity drama in a matter of minutes so that when we have conversations with our peers and colleagues we have a touchstone, a place to jump off for conversation. But, how often do we miss the facts, the context or even the story itself because we have interpreted the information we have in the best way possible, but that information simply is not enough?
This editorial you are reading is broad, we cover a lot, and we hope you take some of it to heart to both better appreciate the content you take in, and also have a better idea into how to interact with at least our personal publication in a more personal manner to enrich your perspective on current events and history.
In the end, no one publication will provide you with all of the context needed to experience someone else’s story. You will never know all there is to know about the Phillies game, political hearings or the irate ramblings of crazed celebrities because you were not there, you are not the person being interviewed and you will see the events reflected on your background and understanding of the present. But this is not a reason to avoid context in favor of personal understanding. Seek out several published works on news, and if you see parts that do not line up, consider why. One publication may bring a political bias into their story, another may skip facts to create a false understanding of events and others may simply just report the raw facts but give no perspective.
Even by reading two published stories on the same event, a world’s worth of context is gained, because the overlaps are more solidified in your understanding, and the differences stand out as either additional information or perhaps questionable biases.
Reflected in Social Media
According to a Pew Research Study, 86 percent of U.S. adults said they get their news from a smartphone. With an increasing number of people primarily getting their news from social media, there is an increasing danger of misinformation, disinformation and malinformation. Social media like Instagram and Twitter have made arguably moot attempts to mitigate the cycles of negative information that tend to spread rapidly on their sites.
One La Salle student had this to say: “Living in an age of social media, I think we are also living in an age of misinformation. In my 20 years of life I have seen immense history be made — both good and bad — and in general I have seen this history play out on social media. I remember posting a picture of the eiffel tower when a terrorist attack happened in Paris. Quite honestly, I had very little knowledge about the event and I was just posting because everyone else in my feed was too. I think this example is similar to how people use social media to post about the issues of the time like COVID-19 unresearched and in an attempt to fit in.”
The effects of social media can be directly seen on members of the student body and their memories surrounding major events. Social media companies (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) understand their power and are actively exercising it, perhaps in a negative or predatory manner.
On Nov. 16, 2021 Twitter created new labels for misinformation on the site. Twitter explains that they are working to help enable free expression and conversations, and would only intervene if content breaks their rules. But in cases when the rules are not broken, Twitter works to provide users with additional context like a message that reads “get the facts about COVID-19.”
However, many of us on this Editorial Board feel that these pop-up messages are not doing enough to educate the public. Users may see these alerts popping up on their posts and think it is funny, rather than the serious matter that misinformation is affecting society.
As more people use various social media, more people are exposed to the cycles of fake news and misinformation. Twitter uses an algorithm that will show a tweet to more users if the tweet is retweeted, favorited or replied to more by enough of its first viewers. Therefore, if a popular tweet contains misinformation and users like what they see, more users will see the tweet in their timeline. Obviously it is more complex and technical than this, but generally this idea is found in most social media algorithms. Ultimately, sites like Twitter creating five word messages to attempt to combat misinformation is not enough. The organizations that control the social medium need to change their algorithm if they do not want fake news to spread.
Censoring Falsities: Weakening Judgement
Twitter does make some attempts to censor users posting misinformation. For example, since introducing their COVID-19 guidance in January 2020, Twitter has suspended over 6,000 accounts and over 78,000 pieces of content that violated their policies. But, these suspensions create a new issue: a fear of control and censorship.
The beauty and success of American society may not seem maintainable or even manageable at this point in time, however it should be our goal as Americans citizens to attempt to maintain its most fundamental value: freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of press and freedom of thought are all directly intertwined. If one goes, the others are bound to go with it. Educators and journalists (including all user-generated content creators on social media) have a duty to not only our country but also to themselves to try and maintain it.
Censorship prohibits the individual from unlocking this innate need. “Truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them,” said Thomas Jefferson.
Seek Context, Seek Understanding
As discussed, it is no secret that there is currently a massive issue when it comes to media and information. Whether you are talking to a white-collar professional with an Ivy League graduate education or a construction worker with a high-school education, there is a consistent feeling that the majority of Americans consume the most digestible form of media and regurgitate dogma without any evidence to back up their viewpoint.
We are aware that across the country there is a widespread argument circulating that most Americans have become lazy when it comes to being educated. The response to this feeling by the majority of media outlets has been more than reprehensible.
While some media outlets and many individuals believe the best response to the general lack of ability or care surrounding media consumption is to make important information easier to digest, we cannot help but feel the opposite.
The desire for knowledge is innate. The desire for education is primordial. It is the job of educators and journalists to do so. As a university filled with educators, La Salle can, should and, in many cases does, strive to do so not only for the sake of fulfilling its mission as an educational institution but also for the sake of fulfilling the intellectual aptitude of each and every student attending it.
More importantly, though, the responsibility for seeking out the information needed to properly weigh in on something falls to the individual. Context allows this discovery of understanding. While individuals may choose the easy way out time and time again, they will make the right decision as long as it remains a consistent option.
It is our role as journalists, our professors’ role as educators and our fellow community member’s role as members of our democracy to strive towards understanding. Bite-sized content, spoon-feeding context tags, social media bombardment and rapid-fire news are not the way to properly learn or experience the world. Censorship, though, does not fix this issue, and in fact could lead to it worsening. The only real solution to America’s context problem lies within members of the public, and it is frightening to think that the only solution we can significantly promote is to just focus your learning.
You shouldn’t need an algorithm to tell you what to learn, and you shouldn’t have a watchdog telling you what is false. Because if you’re being told exactly what to look at, and aren’t trusted to judge truth from fiction, then what is even the point of learning? Do the work, find the context and learn what is true through your own effort.
It was announced on March 31, 2022 that the student-run newspaper out of Philadelphia’s La Salle University, the La Salle Collegian, would be receiving the 2022 Pulitzer Journalism Prizes in Public Service, Breaking News Reporting, Investigative Reporting, Explanatory Reporting, Local Reporting, National Reporting, International Reporting, Feature Writing, Commentary, Criticism, Editorial Writing and Editorial Cartooning for their print publication, as well as the Audio Reporting award for the Collegian Podcast. A full sweep of this magnitude has never been seen before.
President Daniel J. Allen, the president of La Salle, is taking full credit, saying that he has been a major influence on the direction of the paper for years now. When asked about how he influenced their writing, Allen refused to comment. Editor-in-Chief of the Collegian, Jakob “1,300 mg of caffeine per serving” Eiseman had this to say about their stunning victory, “I mean… yeah, I guess we’re alright. We finish uploading nearly every article after our deadlines and we barely ever have enough content to fill the paper, plus I barely care about following a proper editing process. You know what actually, I think we make every paper in existence look like a rag in comparison.”
Eiseman cites the COVID-19 pandemic as a major source of the Collegian’s success. “You know, ever since the pandemic hit, no one has been interested in writing for the paper. Our staff has shrunk to just a handful of wannabe writers making memes in the basement of the student Union, and none of our writers know how to actually conduct an interview or investigation. It’s really made us think about how to work under constraints. And you know what they say, ‘creativity is born from adversity,’ or something like that, I don’t know.”
The support system
The La Salle School of Arts and Sciences highlighted several of the Collegian’s seminal works they believe pushed them over the edge, sharing that articles like “Why you need a thneed” or “On barbershops” impacted not just the world of student journalism, but investigative reporting as a whole, diving deep into the personal turmoil that local conspiracy theorists like their managing editor David “Woe is me” O’Brien go through on a daily basis. His piece “Seed oils: A hidden danger in the American diet” is being used as an example of masterclass reporting in the communication department as we speak.
“I just speak my mind, man,” said O’Brien, “I don’t really have a process, I just kinda write whatever I want whenever I feel like it and expect everyone to think it’s funny. They’ve asked me to help with politics in the past considering my interests in public policy, but I just hate writing anything that isn’t a sh*tpost, and the Collegian respects that.”
The student pub is a large umbrella, though, and nearly every section bagged their own awards. The sports section in the Collegian rivals that of ESPN and Bleacher Report, despite being almost entirely written and edited by political science sophomore Enrique “There Are Bugs Under My Skin” Carrasco. Many faculty and members of the marketing and communication team at La Salle fell in love with Carrasco’s work when he published his piece “Opinion: Athletic department finally does something right” in which he vehemently bashes former head coach Ashley Howard with unsubstantiated claims and improper grammar to the beat of Chief Keef’s “Laughin’ to the Bank,” an idea that was just so funny that none of the Collegian staff could resist as surely it wouldn’t upset anybody within La Salle’s administration.
Carrasco is known to write dotingly of the men’s basketball team, saying in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Yeah, if any of your staff wants to go to the women’s games and write about those, that’d be great because I’m just not doin’ that.”
One criticism of the Collegian’s writing style that really hampered their chances in a few categories was the quality of some of their editors’ work. Business editor for the Collegian, Liz “Did you know I’m an artist?” McLaughlin, has been highly criticized by La Salle’s staff and pundits around the globe as being “too analytical” and “too good at writing for us to understand,” often employing the use of “big girl words,” actual fact-checking, investigative reporting and, god bless her readers’ souls, even interviews in some of her pieces. Articles like her hit piece on the university’s fund allocation or her 100 percent meaningful account of experiencing misogyny on campus were, at least in our opinion, a bit too much for the paper’s audience. We want goofy nonsense and short form articles with NO substance from today’s journalists, and actually caring about your work is just unacceptable. Do better Liz, be more like your peers in the news section.
Another frequent magnet for controversy is none other than Eiseman, the leader of this juggernaut crew. He has been criticized as being “a dirty little gamer” who puts thought and effort into his reviews of properties from pop culture, employing the same journalistic style as his editorials and hard news articles. “I just don’t see why he cares so much about entertainment, it’s not like anyone actually reads that stuff,” said Eiseman’s mother.
“Yeah, I’m not really sure what they expected when they put the guy from arts and entertainment in charge of the whole paper,” said Eiseman, “I just wanna write about movies, not politics and university management, that stuff’s boring.” Despite claiming not to care, there are reports from within the Collegian’s office that he rules the publication with an iron fist, being dubbed a dictator by some for offering simple suggestions.
The standout stars
Journalists from across the country, the likes of Lester Holt, David Muir, Tucker Carlson, Anderson Cooper and others have ranted and raved about the Collegian’s politics section. “Always on time, always factual, never overflowing with surface-level writing and observations, our politics section is the pride and joy of the Libertarian Party,” said Politics Editor Danielle “I run the Instagram” O’Brien.
The politics section is a fan favorite, with some articles like writer Rachel “Why am I being called out by a person I don’t even know” Phillips’ piece “Democrats demand the release of student debt memos” going on to inspire real change despite being only 400 words of mostly quotes from other publications. That piece quickly ended student debt, and not only that, but O’Brien’s piece on Critical Race Theory, that was in no way just facts from a political studies essay reworked into an article to fill space, single handedly ended racism in America. Nearly every single article from politics is under the 500 word minimum, but the editors let it pass, usually because they are uploaded in the wee hours of the morning after they have all gone to sleep. The staff had only this to say about the politics editing style: “No comment. But have you seen the great work she’s done with the Instagram page?”
The head copy editor for the Collegian, Alina “The farmgirl” Snopkowski, is a pure soul untouched by the vitriol that the rest of the staff exudes. Frankly, the writer of this column has nothing funny to say about her because without her work, the paper would have collapsed ages ago. However, our sources from within the Collegian have told us that she may be overworked by her higher-ups in the editing process, only having time to write one article for her own section in an entire semester. If this scandal turns out to be true, the prizes may be reconsidered.
Another powerhouse from the paper’s team is Nolen “LCD Soundsystem enjoyer” Kelly, the arts and entertainment editor who just won’t shut up. He opens his brain and projectile vomits the thoughts all over the page. His fans love the overly-complicated inside jokes, deep film lore references and snide comments Kelly’s reviews take, and he never once has he missed a joke. Kelly is taking his talents elsewhere next year, planning to live as a roadside hermit outside of Wister Court for a few years trying to tell strangers about how much he loves Paul Thomas Anderson and Christopher Nolan movies despite no one understanding a single thing he says. Kelly has a knack for working a reference to his Letterboxd account into every article he writes, and the critics at Pulitzer just loved spotting them in paragraph two of 54 in his hype piece for “The Batman.”
Finally, the trump card of the staff, news editor Kylie “Pro feminism and pro doin’ your mom” McGovern. McGovern is the heart and soul of the Collegian’s Breaking News team, and consistently puts out banger articles that say exactly what the press release they are from says with no added context. She is heralded as the mother of the modern journalistic integrity movement, publishing articles that are so lean and short, that anyone who reads them gets the same exact information from them as from any announcement or email the university makes. Sometimes, her articles will be entirely made up of exact quotes from presidential emails, meaning she writes only about 100 words, leaving very little room for misinterpretation. McGovern’s articles may be short… and that’s the only joke we have to make about them because they’re genuinely good… but at least they’re always on time, something most of the staff can’t fathom.
Let us know what you think
According to Eiseman in an article written for Dictionary.com, “Winning a Pulitzer is widely considered one of the most prestigious honors in these fields, especially for U.S. journalism,” and we couldn’t agree more. Although Joseph Pulitzer is likely rolling in his grave, the journalism landscape has vastly shifted and this is just what the public wants. On behalf of the Collegian, Eiseman accepted the award, giving a simple speech of “It’s been an honor to lead the Collegian for the last year, and I look forward to seeing where they go in the future. I guarantee whoever takes over for me will continue the paper’s trajectory and proceed driving it further into the ground until the once mighty fourth branch of La Salle is nothing but an internet forum full of Seinfeld memes. Thank you.”
Following the speech, we reached out to the university, and this is what they had to say. “The Collegian’s reporting really hasn’t lived up to our standards lately. They haven’t been doing nearly enough digging to find out any of the nasty secrets we’re hiding, like the fact that our Alumni Association lost over $34,000 combined in one year on the Golf Outing, Charter Dinner and other events which is public information on our 2019 Schedule G 990s. I guess the school population will never know any of our bad press because the ‘journalists’ at the Collegian are too busy sh*tposting. Oh well.”
Sorry La Salle, don’t know what to tell you, but this is just how it is. We won the prizes because we are the best just the way we are. You don’t like it? You can take it up with the Editorial Board by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe next time take the suggestions to them instead of holding them and whining about it behind their back. They are reasonable adults and can take criticism, and the Collegian staff is always willing to compromise. We genuinely respect and understand your comments regarding our writing style and quality of publication over the last few months, and will be making some changes accordingly based on them with full fervor, but you can just contact us directly next time please so we can have a conversation about it like you would with any other publication, yeah? Cool.
Update: The Pulitzer Prize for Best Writer on the Planet, No Seriously No One Will Ever Be Better Than This, Drop Out of Journalism School NOW has been awarded to Kicks and Cake Editor Claire “I am weed” Kunzier for her hard hitting commentary and complete mastery of the English language. The critics at the Pulitzer Prize Board were brought to tears, uncontrollable body urges and even Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS) upon reading her work “I can’t whistle.” The single paragraph is said to be so comically written that no English speaker can read it without instantly laughing themselves into cardiac arrest. The line “YOU KNOW IT’S HARDER THAN YOU THINK FLO RIDA, SOMETIMES YOU CAN’T ‘JUST PUT YOUR LIPS TOGETHER’ SOMETIMES PEOPLE CAN’T DO IT” has said to have killed over 100 people to date, and the rest of the article is being transcribed into runes as we speak to avoid overloading the human mind. Kicks and Cake continuously puts out these unbelievably great articles, leading some to believe that Kunzier has colluded with some form of greater being in order to control the human race through laughter-induced docileness and incredibly hot takes.
It was announced Monday that the La Salle Explorers men’s basketball team would be undergoing yet another major upheaval with the firing of head coach Ashley Howard. Howard has been with the team for four seasons, and does not have a stellar record to show for his time. La Salle finished with an 11-19 record this season.
As is suggested in an ESPN article by Jeff Borzello, “[coaching] La Salle is considered arguably the most difficult job in the Atlantic 10 due to its resources and facilities.” But Howard is from Philly, was an assistant coach at Villanova for five seasons and was there when they won the national championship in 2016 and 2018 and had worked with La Salle in the past. If anyone was willing, ready and up to the task, seemingly, it was Howard. But, it appears that it just was not meant to be.
To the defense of Howard, he was brought to La Salle with hopes he would copy and paste Villanova’s success here at our humble school. Copy Villanova’s program, a school that has over $1.88 billion in assets… yeah maybe someone here was expecting a little much from Howard, but he was expected to mirror the success, and, to that end, he failed.
Some are speculating that this change comes as La Salle welcomes its new President Daniel Allen, hoping that with a new executive staff, a plan can be forged to bring La Salle into a new financial era, with the basketball team playing a part in that change. Whether this means taking a gamble on a head coach and pouring even more resources into it, or finally letting the giant die in exchange for a different approach to athletic promotion, it is unknown.
“It’s a wonderful game but it’s a difficult business,” Howard said to the Inquirer. Taking a look at the more than $1 billion in revenues generated by March Madness, and all of the money the Big Five in Philly invest into their teams just to get a shot at greatness, we’d agree it is a difficult business, and it’s just that, business. Basketball at a college level is no longer a game, it’s an investment, and it’s about time that La Salle realized they’re making the same bad investments over and over again.
While genuinely do not believe Howard had any ill intent when coming to La Salle, this fact needs to be considered: In exchange for a cut in salary, Howard extended his contract by two years in 2020 and received a buyout upon his termination, and if Giannini’s path is anything to be followed, signing a $500,000 annual contract and then tanking the team seems like a great way to make some quick cash. Just saying.
There is some on-campus controversy surrounds the firing, as it took place one day before La Salle’s annual day of giving and was announced under the radar. Some believe that this action makes the school look bad, as they got rid of a large investment one day before asking for money. Others believe that the timing was perfect, as it showed donors that La Salle carried an attitude that shows that poor performance will no longer be tolerated.
Opinions about Howard
We asked various students around La Salle what they had to say, and the responses varied from person to person, although their reaction was mostly negative. While some viewed him as a good coach, many others had vastly more biting emotions towards Howard. For the sharpest of all, please check out our Sports section to see what editor Enrique Carrasco had to say about Howard’s firing. (Spoilers: He doesn’t exactly give him a glowing review.)
One student who chose to remain anonymous stated, “It needed to happen. The basketball team only got worse under him.” Another simply said, “He sucked.” Despite these comments, not all thoughts were negative. Some students stated that he was a “great coach.”
Sedin ‘22 also stated,”[Howard] wasn’t the best. Looked like he knew what he talked about, but I doubt he actually did.” Jake ‘22 stated, “I think he expected to be able to work with what La Salle was giving him and didn’t fully understand how much goes into running a team with as little resources as we have. He thought he could think outside the box to help the team succeed, but wasn’t able to.”
Andrew ‘23 had something interesting to say when he stated, “When he was chosen to succeed Giannini in 2018, Coach Howard was definitely the best choice. He played basketball for Drexel and under Jay Wright was instrumental in building two national championship teams at Villanova. However, at La Salle, it seemed like Howard was never genuinely interested. It seemed like every year, we would finish with a frustrating record and then be forced to build a new team due to the high frequency of transfers.”
The opinions on who should replace Howard were some of the most varied we received. A few people stated that they’d like to see La Salle alum Tim Leger take over the reins. Others said that they’d like to see Matt Langel. Overall, though, most people had no idea who should come in to replace him, but most believe it should be a coach new to the system.
So, if Howard got cut, John Giannini got cut and La Salle has been nowhere near the NCAA March Madness tournament since 2013, in which they were beaten by Wichita State, there aren’t many routes left for La Salle to take.
In exchange for a cut in salary, Howard extended his contract by two years in 2020 and received a buyout upon his termination. Also, if Giannini’s path is anything to be followed, signing a $750,000 annual contract and then tanking the team seems like a great way to make some quick cash. Just saying.
Maybe the solution to La Salle’s woes doesn’t really lie with the coaching staff of the Explorers; maybe it doesn’t lie with the basketball team at all. When the major sports schism occurred in September of 2020, athletic director Brian Baptiste said that “It’s important to note that this is not a cost-cutting decision, but rather a strategic effort to reallocate our investment in a way that better aligns with our student-centered mission.” Well, since then, Gianni’s $700,000+ annual salary and the bountiful wealth “reallocated” from the other sports into men’s basketball has borne a 9-16 losing season, an 11-19 losing season and continually low placements in the Atlantic 10 power rankings.
La Salle parades their men’s basketball team like it’s something to be proud of, and simply put: it’s shameful. All one has to do is look at the women’s basketball team’s 16-12 record and top five ranking in the A10 compared to the men’s 12th place rank. We can go on. Men’s cross country: A10 champions, women’s cross country: we have the Mancini sisters and that’s enough said. Field hockey has a .429 and women’s soccer has a .450 win rate. Not stellar, top ranking scores, but compared to the men’s basketball .278, it just speaks for itself.
For some members of the Editorial Board not particularly interested in sports, but more interested in seeing La Salle stay open, we think that flushing funds and resources into more successful sports and working to engage the student body in those will be more fruitful than the continuous efforts to have students attend a men’s basketball game in which the Explorers will likely lose.
Yes, we are aware that these other sports may not boast as fierce a competition as men’s basketball, arguably the sport with the most talent in the whole NCAA what with recruiting, bracketing and the money that comes with it at an all-time high. But, if La Salle could just allocate a fraction of the funds they put toward the basketball team toward their actually good teams and their academic endeavors, recruitment would go up, the campus experience would be improved and as a result, recruiting for basketball would loosen up and who knows… if La Salle stopped propping itself up on a losing team, maybe they would be able to claw out of this hole the pandemic has left them in.