In today’s society, information is constantly available to us. When we have questions, we Google them. When we want to know what’s going on in our government, we turn the news on. When we’re wondering what happened in our area, we check the community paper. For college students, their resources for what’s happening on and around campus is their student media. But at Piedmont, campus news is harder than it should be to pass along to the student body. When the college administration’s communication policy is to not communicate about issues of potential controversy, a major rift between students and administration forms. And it isn’t easy to bridge.
There is a complete lack of communication between Piedmont College’s administration and students, which has created a culture of distrust and skepticism towards the administration. When students ask questions or voice our complaints, we’re met with silence. When student journalists reach out, all too often the replies are “no comment,” or nothing at all.
During the Piedmont v. Wainberg lawsuit, which involved allegations of sexual assault and harassment, including an incident directly impacting a student, the college didn’t reach out to students to offer any information about what they were hearing. The only reason students found out about the controversial textbook fee was because of campus-wide gossip that sparked student outrage. When the multi-million-dollar music conservatory project began with no communication to students about funds, incorrect information was spread around campus that our tuition dollars paid for the building.
All of these contributed to the continually growing gap between students and administration, and without changes to how the college handles student relations, they’ll only get worse. Administration wonders why students are angry, why retention rates are low regardless of how many programs are instated, no matter how many changes they make. The relationship between students and the college won’t improve until those in power learn to open the lines of communication.
Tell students what changes are coming, or better yet, include us in these decisions. It’s our school, and our student body is small enough that there’s no reason we shouldn’t be involved in decisions that directly impact us. There’s no reason that there should be so many rumors spreading across our campus, where distrust of administration already runs rampant when the college could just communicate with us.
Occasionally hosting a town hall with the president isn’t enough. The Student Government Association hearing an update once a month and deciding if students should care isn’t enough. Give everyone access to the information that concerns them, it’s your ethical duty.