Editorial: Honesty must be upheld

By Gus Bode

James Scales seemed like the perfect subject for a feature on a Vietnam veteran.

He was an SIUC administrator and had colorful stories to tell. He had the ribbons, had taken leaves from the university at the right times and wore his uniform proudly. Students who were recruited by him or worked with him adored him. And in SIUC’s forest of interims, he was one of the few beacons of hope that someday all administrators would stay here for 29 years and longer. Staff members of the Daily Egyptian wanted to get to know this compelling man in more depth.

But then Scales’ story came crashing down with one phone call from a Vietnam veteran in Pueblo, Colo. That veteran, Doug Sterner, has devoted his life to cataloguing this nation’s veterans, and exposing any who lie about service to their country.


And so we delved into Army records, calling numerous offices and speaking to numerous people. Roughly 100 documents were searched. We asked him for any scrap of information he could give us, from names of his officers to fellow soldiers who could verify his account.

We really, really wanted his story to be true.

Much to our disappointment, all of those documents said he hadn’t done what he said he had. They told us his amazing story was not true.

On Sunday evening, Scales told us he would step down first thing Monday from his position in light of the accusations.

Foolishly, we believed him.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Larry Dietz said that Scales was not hired because of his military experience, and therefore should not leave his position.

But the Daily Egyptian can’t help but be skeptical of r’eacute;sum’eacute;s that were crafted with the help of someone who cannot be honest about his own work experience.


Some argue that the certainty of what exactly Scales’ military experience entails is gray at best, and that may be true. Records are lost or destroyed. Names and numbers are switched. Any number of tiny flukes could have resulted in incomplete records.

But all of the records that are immediately available indicate that Scales’ story is not true.

Not a single document exists that says he went to Vietnam. He has no medals, and cannot remember a single name or produce a scrap of evidence.

The Daily Egyptian thinks that Scales should be put on administrative leave until a more thorough search of records is conducted, and his military status is certain. When the whole truth is known, the university can decide what Scales deserves. Removing him temporarily is the only way this university can adhere to the principles of integrity and truth on which it is supposed to run. This university also prides itself on its service to veterans, but must reserve this service to those who truly deserve it.

SIUC spokesman Rod Sievers told The Southern Illinoisan, ‘There’s a lot there that has to happen before the university takes action.’

The Daily Egyptian isn’t buying it. John Y. Simon was locked out of his Grant Association office without warning based on accusations and allegations.

Scales’ military service may not be why he was hired, but no SIUC role model should be accused of knowingly breaking a federal law and be allowed to continue influencing the students who need help from Career Services.