Columns / Discourse / April 6, 2016

Thoughts from the embers: Students deserve response from admin

There’s a reason the Title IX argument on campus sounds one-sided: It is.

This isn’t to say that the stories and arguments of activists are invalid; it’s that the voices of the administration are silent and dismissive.

The various BuzzFeed articles, Yik Yak rants and Facebook posts are screaming for a response from the administration a response beyond the inhuman emails and surveys. Collectively, it sends the message that traditional means of communication are not working.

Students are resorting to these unconventional methods of relaying information for two reasons: The first reason being the lack of substantive feedback from college officials, the second being the fact that students are actually engaging.

As a result of the unconventionality of the activists’ methods, college officials have focused their attention on the medium of publication, rather than the message. In other instances, the posts have been ignored completely. This is arrogant and immature.

It’s true that BuzzFeed, Yik Yak and other forms of social media aren’t necessarily legitimate or professional, but disregarding the posts as meaningless ignores the reason they are made in the first place: Students are frustrated.

By criticizing or ignoring activists’ efforts, the administration is only distancing themselves from the campus community and making it more difficult for students to come forward and communicate.

Rather than directly address the concerns and posts published, President Teresa Amott criticized social media in this year’s State of the College address. Student Senate similarly disregarded the social media posts made about Bon Appétit in last winter’s Dining Services Forum.

The student body understands the professionality and legitimacy of certain channels of communication. We understand that anyone with a laptop has the ability to post to YikYak or BuzzFeed. We know that anyone can speak out on social media too.

But the medium isn’t the point.

The point is that someone is angry. Someone feels that their voice isn’t being heard, and that’s not their problem that’s the problem of the administration.

In addition to their disregard, college officials already have a history of ineffective communication. This issue comes up repeatedly in campus protests regarding mental health, diversity and Title IX inefficiencies. This isn’t the first Embers about administrative communication either; if change isn’t made, it’s unlikely to be the last.

From the perspective of our editors and reporters, student frustration is justified. We’ve published three different perspectives on sexual assault and the Title IX process, as well as other articles on protests and sexual assault statistics. On this topic, we’ve never received a direct response from college officials.

The reason TKS hasn’t reported more on Title IX, as much as we want to give a story justice, is because we need someone from the administration to talk about their perspective. We don’t have that. From a reporter’s perspective, that shuts us down and keeps us from reporting a story in a balanced, ethical and legal way.

We see information coming from a single direction. It’s possible the college is indeed implementing change to make things better, but students aren’t aware of what’s going on. The lack of unity on important issues discourages understanding between both parties and will only lead to more suspicion of the efficacy of the administration.

How can college officials get their message to us?

We suggest implementing the regular campus-wide meetings that were promised to us two years ago; public forums that are scheduled at accessible times; official addresses that are actually advertised to the student body; channels of communication that make more of an effort to reach more students; and most importantly, rhetoric that isn’t dismissive.

After years of our grievances, you owe us this much.

TKS Editorial Board

Tags:  activism administration campus activity communication media response Students support thoughts from the embers

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