In light of recent tragedies, and with a profound sadness for lives lost in senseless acts of violence, I expect an emotional response to the allegations against one of our faculty. He, like the rest of us, is capable of making a mistake. This is an appeal to our community and to the leaders of our University for kindness in response. Our nation is hurting from the tragedies of the past, but it’s what happens next, that could be the greater tragedy.
It’s been over a decade since I roamed the campus at NWMSU, and yet, through social media, I still feel connected and hold my time on campus as some of the best years of my life. I have been able to check in from time to time on old classmates, friends and professors, including Matt Rouch.
Matt’s influence is all over my transcript and is largely responsible for launching my broadcasting career. I hold him to be one of my most influential mentors at Northwest. Introductory classes in radio and television, writing, production, editing and analysis set the foundation for my 15-year career in broadcasting. Matt’s real world outlook, and understanding of what it takes to succeed in our industry helped me build relationships and grow as a broadcaster and as a person.
As the digital content director for Clear Channel Media & Entertainment in Hawaii, I manage multiple Facebook accounts, and understand the pressure to generate compelling content and engaging posts. Businesses spend thousands of dollars every year trying to master the evolving media with only moderate success. Matt’s Facebook posts have been a combination of his personal humor and sarcasm, mixed in with personal life stories and challenges. In the ever-long pursuit of being creative and engaging, Matt crossed a line. It’s a blurry line that, when crossed, can sometimes get people in trouble. It’s a line that professors encourage us to cross every day.
The irreverent post and marijuana charges are going to be fuel for a fire that my media colleagues will fan furiously. With the VMA’s behind us, and Syria not really acceptable water cooler discussion, this incident will get a lot of people talking. When you become a part of that discussion, remember that we are all part of the Northwest Missouri State family. We are responsible for defending our family members, even if they make mistakes. We have the obligation to stand up for our brother, even if he is wrong.
I’m asking that our community leaders weigh these mistakes against the amount of good Matt Rouch has done in his tenure at NWMSU. Just ask the countless number of students he affected and the communities his influence shines on before condemning him to the dark. Offhanded comments, jokes in bad taste, a personal marijuana habit… none of these are reasons to toss aside decades of tutelage. A university is safe place to make bold statements and to make mistakes. We can’t control what other people say and do, but we can control how we respond. Please respond appropriately and kindly.