Tuesday, August 14, 2007

ODP Makes a Bad Mistake

Last week I reported that my friend Megan Pappada was hired as the ODP's first coordinator of women's outreach. You may or may not have heard that she was unhired that night.

From what I can put together, after hiring Megan, someone discovered that first semester of her freshman year she wrote a letter to the editor of the OSU student newspaper about race relations. In it, she took some positions that were problematic and others that probably could have been expressed better. And from what I've been told by a person close to the matter, Megan was let go. Both the post on ODP blog and the podcast on Odeo were quietly deleted. I wrote ODP for comment and have heard nothing.

A person close to Megan has conveyed her wish that I simply remove my post and let life go on. I hope she will forgive me for declining to do so. First off, it's not how I roll. The post wasn't in error at the time it was written, nor have I decided in retrospect that it was unfair -- those are the only reasons I would delete a post. I certainly won't delete it for the sake of papering over the party's mistake.

And that's the second reason. The party screwed up. People found Megan's letter by Googling her name. The letter is in the top search result. If someone had just taken ten seconds to do what I thought every employer on Earth was now doing -- vetting by internet search -- we wouldn't have this messy situation.

Moreover, if they had found out about this ahead of time, the situation could have worked out. I understand why the letter is a problem. But it's something she wrote seven years ago as a first semester freshman. If I had written such a letter at such a time, it would be hard pressed to break into the Fifty Stupidest Things I Did First Semester Freshman Year. It certainly wouldn't have made the Top Twenty, probably not even the Top Twenty That Didn't Involve Beer.

And people change. And they change a hell of a lot from freshman year to mid-twentysomething. If the ODP had understood what this was and if they had run it past some high-profile African American leaders and let Megan chat with them and assure them that she has grown in her understanding and blah, blah blah, hiring her wouldn't have been a problem. It was a problem because they didn't do the most basic homework.

I'm not just a volunteer citizen journalist, I'm a member of the Ohio Democratic Party and I'll be damned if I'm going to let them act like the gang that couldn't shoot straight then sweep it under the rug. If this is out, hopefully the people involved will exercise more due care next time.

Finally, I want to assure anyone who Googles Megan in the future and finds their way to this post that the person who wrote that letter nearly a decade ago is not the person I've come to know and respect. Someone hire this woman. She'll work twice as hard as the next person down on the list.


NEO said...

It's unfortunate, but sometimes one's past actually manages to catch up with them. I'm not saying it's always fair or just. It is what it is. Hopefully, she gets another chance to prove herself.

ohdave said...

Good post.

That's a dumb reason not to hire someone.

I'm right there with ya, about the beer and stupid things. But I'm forty, and still doing it.

FamineHorse said...

Great post Pho. Megan didn't deserve this. People often change dramatically--especially from their freshman year of college--and Megan has. It was cowardly what ODP did. They lost a hell of a talent.

And as far as Neobuckeye's comment that the past sometimes catches up with them--how many elected officials & party folks, on both sides of the aisle, do stupid crap like get caught driving drunk, having affairs, renting prostitutes, etc., and never pay the price? She wrote a letter as a FRESHMAN. And, it's a letter that expresses a viewpoint not that uncommon from a majority of Americans. She doesn't curse, doesn't drop any racial epithets. And, she's given no chance to explain, defend herself, or apologize. She's just canned. It's rotten & ODP deserves dremendous criticism for this.


Anonymous said...

Pre-Internet, all of us, R's and D's used to get a pass or two for youthful mistakes. I think we were better off then. Who the heck is perfect?

I don't know her, don't support the ODP, but when is some of this stuff going to end?

Anonymous said...

ODP has responded. She wasn't fired because she said something racially offensive, I read what she said and there was nothing wrong, just politically incorrect. Come on you liberal free thinkers, can't we all get along?

Seriously, if your views weren't liberally orthodox enough seven years ago, you can't work for the ODP? Come on over to the light Megan, all are welcome, all are welcome.

Anonymous said...

Looks to me like Megan's high school owes an apology to the entire state of Ohio. The actions of the OSU she finds fault with are designed to remedy the effects of past discrimination, a good deal of which occured in the Jim Crow South. Ohio's response to the resulting human rights refugee influx during the 50's and 60's was inadequate.

What do they teach in high school civics/history these days?

Can we hope Hillary will be disqualified due to her Wellesley senior thesis...

Anonymous said...


When I was a freshman at Ohio State, I was a libertarian (because I didn't know any better) and thought that affirmative action and unions(!) had served their purpose and should be set aside. I was an idiot, and have probably had some ill-advised stuff published in the past. (The worst I could find in about a minute's worth of searching was some anti-NIMBY rant about the various Crew Stadium proposals that were shot down by various municipalities.)

College is the place where many kids get their first exposure to actual diversity. It is where you get pushed out of your comfort zone. Where you learn and grow, and make the transition from snot-nosed kid to young adult.

I'm not sure what is worse here - that Megan was "unhired", or that the ODP is trying to erase that it ever happened. Give the girl a chance to vindicate her self, publicly.