College student in trouble over fake ID admission to newspaper

“Fake IDs do work,” said sophomore Hilary Stevenson. “I have a 21 wristband due to my fake ID, so I don’t get in trouble for drinking.”

From a November 30 story in The Pendulum, Elon University’s student paper

Student investigated for comment in The Pendulum

Headline in the December 6 Pendulum

Hilary Stevenson, a sophomore at Elon University in Elon, N.C., heard from the assistant dean of students shortly after The Pendulum hit the streets, and has been ordered to a Student Conduct meeting.

The college paper reports that “Stevenson declined anonymity when interviewed for the article” in which she admitted using a fake ID, “and would not comment on the potential charges.”

I asked Pendulum editor-in-chief Anna Johnson about her paper’s dealings with the student/source. She replied in an email:

When The Pendulum news editors and I looked at the story we asked our reporter why some sources were anonymous and some were not. She gave each of the sources a chance to speak anonymously if they so desired and only one student choose that option. We try to stay clear of anonymous sources unless there is some sort of sensitive topic being discussed. If a source chooses to use their name, we’ve never gone against their wishes and made them anonymous to ‘protect’ them.

In the aftermath of our editorial and the possible charges against this student, several Elon communication professors have come forward saying we should have protected her and gone against her wishes to make her anonymous.

This is our last edition of the semester and an entire new staff takes over in January. I am sure they will be looking at the recommendations and determining what to do if situations like this ever arises, especially since the administration has threaten charges against this student.

* Pendulum blasts “decision to pursue charges against one of our sources”
* “Stevenson is merely a victim of her own poor judgment,” says letter-writer

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