Discourse / Letters / January 15, 2015

Winter break editorial appreciated

Thank you for the Thoughts from the Embers: Thank you, Ariyana Smith posted by the Editorial Board on December 10, 2014. I very much appreciate hearing your perspective on Ariyana’s protest and wanted to take this opportunity to share with you my perspective on the matter of disclosing student names and information.

In all communications regarding our students, we are guided by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations and, as a result, we take care to follow those guidelines closely. While Ariyana’s public protest has resulted in a great deal of media attention and discussion on and off campus, we take seriously our responsibility to protect her privacy, even when communicating about specific actions. As a member of the administration, I know we have carefully considered when to use  Ariyana’s name and when not to use her name because we respect her right to privacy. Our job as an institution–and my job as the Dean of Students–is to allow her a safe and supportive place to share her ideas. While I understand how avoiding using Ariyana’s name in various communications can be interpreted in many ways, we would follow these same guidelines and procedures for all of our students.

I want to echo what President Amott said in her recent note to the campus community:  “We regret that Ariyana was made to feel that she had anything less than the full backing of the College, and we vow to do better going forward.”

As pointed out in the editorial, “The dialogue surrounding Ferguson and racial inequality in America must continue.”  I appreciate your calling the student body to action and encouraging the community to participate fully in this dialogue. The Center for Intercultural Life staff, Office of Student Development, Union Board, Student Senate, and faculty, among other departments, have been planning a variety of events, programs and opportunities for our community to come together to discuss social injustice over the next two terms. We will share more details on these events as they are solidified.

Thank you, again, for the thoughtful editorial. I look forward to the community coming together in January to continue the dialogue and working together to make Knox the best place possible for all who study and work here.

Deb Southern

Tags:  ariyana smith community editorial events President Amott response

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