Open communication among staff and students should be a core value

I’d like to think that our choice to attend Guilford College is inspired in part by the belief that our core values elevate consciousness in a way that is uniquely “Guilford.”  However, some experiences lately make me think that some administrators are falling short of their charge.

Equally important, as stewards of respect and common sense, is our duty as reporters to disseminate the information received in the truest light. The Spring 2012 semester has brought with it a variety of delicate subjects: allegations of perceived Title IX violations from concerned student athletes and the fact that the college is being hit with budget cuts that might lead to staff members losing their jobs, just to name a couple.

These subjects aren’t always fun to write or read about and the questions aren’t always easy to answer, but they are being presented for a reason: to inform the community, even when the subject matter must be addressed delicately.

Recently and on more than one occasion, questions directed to those who influence decisions have been ignored completely or put on the proverbial back burner, which is a loss to the community.

Building community means, in part, being open to questions and willing to fill members in on important issues. We fall shy of this when a division exists between administrators who have important insight and student reporters whose job it is to share the news.

There are some administrators who enthusiastically aid students with whatever questions we might have, and this builds trust within the community. Those who are not willing to participate in discussions do more harm than good.

The ability to question a staff member or administrator on delicate subjects is crucial, especially for reporters who hope to catalogue and describe those events important to the community.

Looking to Guilford’s mission statement, I wonder what the framers of the following had in mind: “The (college’s) purpose is to focus Guilford’s mission in both the curricular and extracurricular life of our students towards the practical liberal arts.”

“This commitment requires Guilford students to learn to address problems critically, creatively, constructively, with courage and conscience.”

It takes a good amount of “courage” and “conscience” to directly question authority, especially from the standpoint of a student who is questioning those who are in positions of power.

Whether it is a vice president or a coach, learning to question and interview those educators and administrators is integral to the student writer and to the reader, because greater transparency builds an informed community.

The chance to speak with those who might not have the same insight is an opportunity to inform, to educate and to emphasize the idea of community we so ardently claim to embody.

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