You think the Weber State University football team has it rough? Try being Raychel Johnson.
Although the Wildcats started the season with a victory over some guy named Stephen F. Austin, the dude did manage to single-handedly hang a whopping 40 points on the Weber defense. And then, on top of that, the 'Cats dropped the next two games in embarrassingly lopsided fashion, by scores of 70-7 and 70-6.
Not a particularly great start to WSU's fall semester.
Yeah? Well, Raychel Johnson's semester hasn't been any better. Johnson is editor-in-chief at The Signpost, the WSU student newspaper. And she finds herself at the center of a fire storm of epic proportions over a Sept. 9 letter to the editor that was critical of Muslims.
Michael W. Jarvis of Salt Lake City submitted a letter to the editor to The Signpost, accusing Muslims of religious intolerance and persecution, and encouraging them to pick a day other than Sept. 11 for the planned "Million Muslim March."
Now, here's the important thing you need to know about this whole story. The Signpost never gets letters to the editor. Ever. And I do mean never, ever.
Don't believe me? Ask Johnson.
"I've never gotten a letter to the editor," she explained in a telephone interview Monday afternoon. "My predecessor didn't get one either. The Signpost hasn't received a letter to the editor in over a year and a half."
That's a heck of a long time between letters.
But then, Jarvis' 300-word epistle shows up on a Friday and -- not even giving it a second thought -- Johnson runs it the following Monday.
Campus outrage in three, two, one ...
Suddenly, Johnson and "The Article" are the talk of the campus. That's right, The Article. Hardly anybody seems to understand it's a letter to the editor, even though accompanying it, in fairly large script, were the words "Letter to the editor." And so now everyone's holding student government meetings, and campus diversity meetings, and informal clear-the-air meetings -- all over this one little old letter to the editor.
"It started last Monday, and I'm still dealing with it," said a harried Johnson, who's also dealing with major staffing problems at the student paper. "I've heard people eventually forget about stuff."
She's hoping that happens soon.
Think it'll be another year and a half before the next letter to the editor shows up at The Signpost? Hardly. Johnson has already gotten four letters responding to Jarvis' letter -- that's a veritable flood of public opinion given the newspaper's track record.
Plus which, Johnson is particularly proud of the fact The Signpost has even received another letter to the editor that was NOT precipitated by the Jarvis piece.
"On an unrelated note, we got a letter to the editor on the university's smoking policy," she said, a hint of excitement in her voice.
The 21-year-old Roy High School graduate has wanted to be a writer since the fifth grade. Oh, she admits there was a time when she briefly thought about TV journalism, but she insists she's got a face for newspapers. Well, plus there is that one other thing.
"I have too many tattoos," she said.
But she does love writing and reporting. She loves getting the scoop and informing the public.
And despite getting "crucified" for what she believes was doing the right thing in running the letter, Johnson isn't sorry she's going through all this.
"It'll make me a better journalist,"
Hard to argue with that logic. Indeed, if the purpose of attending college is getting a good education, Raychel Johnson is certainly getting her money's worth this semester.
Do you suppose the football team feels the same way?
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at @Saalman.