Two Colorado Mesa University administrators acknowledged last week that two people associated with CMU’s club hockey team made a mistake when they asked The Criterion to drop a story about a hockey player being arrested for assault.
But the same officials said they believe hockey Coach Tim Winegard and Manager of Club Sports Reese Kegans made an honest mistake.
In an email response to inquiries on the incident, Kegans said, “Please drop the story. Thank you.” A little over an hour later, Winegard wrote his own email, which said, “I will not speak to any media. Please disregard your story.”
Attempts to talk to Kegans and Winegard a second time were not successful.
“We sat down, and Mr. Kegans and I discussed it a little bit,” Director of Student Life Shane O’Neill said. “We had a couple quick minutes about it, but we also discussed, you know, there are other avenues to go down. You can just say ‘No comment’ because at the end of the day, [The Criterion] have a right to write whatever stories that they would like to.”
O’Neill said he was sure that people asked for stories to be dropped sometimes, but he’d never witnessed this happening before now.
“I think that they were coming at it from a little bit of a perspective of where they didn’t necessarily want to see the individual have something be negatively written about him, even though it is kind of the public truth,” O’Neill said.
“I suspect that their response came from a good place,” Vice President for Student Services John Marshall said. He admitted that neither Kegans nor Winegard should have requested the story to be dropped, but he thought their intentions were good.
“I think it was probably an honest mistake,” Marshall said. “Coming from another place, they responded in a way that’s not how I would have had them respond, but that’s okay.”
In regards to the alleged assault, Marshall said that he expects students at CMU to “conduct themselves at the highest levels of personal, ethical, and moral conduct.” At the same time, he said that the amount of publicity the suspect received should be maintained to a degree.
“We all make mistakes, and that’s true even more-so in the eighteen to twenty-four-year-old category, and that’s okay,” Marshall said. “I would say we are always in this position as a university of balancing holding students accountable and being transparent about what’s going on, and also trying to appreciate that they’re students, that they’re going to make mistakes.”
Marshall admitted Kegans’ and Winegard’s “honest mistake,” while also respecting their attempts to protect Nieslanik to a degree.
“How much more do we want to highlight a young person who screwed up?” Marshall said.