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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Letter to the Editor: The Aggie did campus a disservice

I am writing in regards to The Aggie’s dismal coverage of this year’s Picnic Day. Specifically, I am disappointed by the Aggie’s failure to adequately report on the tragic death of recent UCD graduate Scott Heinig, who died from complications from a head injury sustained at a post-Picnic Day house party on Saturday night.

This tragedy merited only a four-sentence summary in your April 18 edition (“UC Davis grad dies from injury,” p.1) and a cursory reference in an unrelated, April 19 article on UC Davis baseball (“UC Davis drops two in inter-conference play,” p.6). And while the Aggie’s editorial page has thus far failed to comment on Heinig’s death, on Tuesday it did offer a light-hearted editorial (“Thanks for handling your shit,” p.3), which characterized this year’s Picnic Day as a roaring success. Given the fatal circumstances of that day, the editorial’s tone and specific failure to mention Heinig must be considered tactless, if not misleading.

Meanwhile, Heinig’s death and the approximately 60 arrests that occurred at this year’s Picnic Day have been reported heavily by the Davis Enterprise, Sacramento Bee and UC Davis News Service.  The discrepancy in tone and degree of coverage between The Aggie and these news outlets is striking. Many of the students I have spoken with about Heinig’s death have been unaware that it occurred – which must be viewed in part as a result of the Aggie’s lack of substantive coverage. The Aggie does a disservice to the community in not adequately reporting on this issue, and in painting an overly-rosy picture of a day in which someone lost his life.

Heinig’s death is a tragedy that, whatever one’s thoughts on Picnic Day, should prompt a thoughtful campus and community discussion on how to prevent incidents like this from occurring in the future.


Rob Newcomb

Assistant professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese


  1. The accidental death that occurred had nothing to do with Picnic Day. It could have happened at any Saturday-night party any day of the year. I salute the Aggie for not conflating a random accident with the already sensationalized “Picnic Day is out of control” story.


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