Opinion: Former ultoday.com writer Sam Stokes responds to a recent editorial in The VermilionTo read the original op-ed piece in The Vermilion click here.  To read other responses, click here and here.

Nicholas,

My name is Sam Stokes. I'm a recent UL grad and the author of the "Corndog Alert" article you seem to have alluded to in your essay. I'd like to apologize for the tardiness of my response as this matter wasn't brought to my attention until recently.

I'd like to start out by saying I have no problem with the opinions you expressed in your essay. I'll address some of the points you made later, but as an outspoken person myself, I believe strongly that everyone is entitled to voice his opinion. My problem lies with the platform you used to express that opinion.

As Editor of The Vermilion, you have a lot of power. You are the gatekeeper of the voice of the students. You are entrusted with protecting the platform of student expression. Using that platform to selfishly express your personal agenda was both disgusting and disappointing.

As the editor of The Vermilion, you are no longer some student with an opinion. As editor, you are the newspaper, you are The Vermilion. [bold retained from the submitted letter]

But the Vermilion is not yours. It's bigger than you and it's bigger than me. It's a symbol. When you published that article last week, you spoke not for the students, but for yourself. You turned the students' voice against them to free yourself of your personal demons, and in the process, called into question the journalistic integrity of the very platform that empowered you to speak.

You embarrassed yourself, you embarrassed me, you embarrassed countless Cajun supporters, alumni, and students, and you turned your paper and your University into a laughingstock.

In your essay, you question the animosity between UL and the school down the road. In doing so, you made the quintessential blunder of the inexperienced college journalist. You failed to see things that weren't directly in front of you and you failed to realize the University existed prior to your enrollment.

During my four years at UL and my brief time at ultoday, I spent a lot of time studying the history of my school. Through ultoday, I was given the opportunity to meet many people who had been around the school for a long time and hear their stories. I read a few books, lots of magazine articles, and watched a few documentaries here and there. I can assure you that the animosity you refer to in your essay is nothing new, it is not one-sided, it did not begin in 2003, and sure as hell has nothing to do with football.

You are privileged to attend a great University with an incredible and unique history, Nicholas. You should really look into it.

In your article, you told your story of why you are a fan of the school down the road. Well Nick, I think it's only fair that you hear my story.

It starts out a lot like yours and like countless UL grads. Although I had the grades to attend many schools, my family's financial situation meant that my choices were UL or nowhere. As a diehard sports fan like yourself, I had also grown up watching and even attending a few games at the big school down the road.