Editorial: On the Same Page

It’s time for us to talk–specifically, to talk about talking more.

Recent events, some of which involved students’ safety, have drawn our attention to lags in communication. When students and teachers alike raised legitimate and even not-so-legitimate concerns, the slowness in communicative efforts from those informed of these situations was disconcerting. Granted, we understand the challenges that the informed face in dealing with the uncomfortable; it’s a great balancing act between reputation, safety and responsibility, of acknowledging all interests at hand.

But we need to realize that both parties–the informed and uninformed–are not in opposition; rather, they are working toward the common goal of credibility based on trust.

In fact, it is precisely communication that allows for the fulfillment of this common goal. Through both immediate and effective communication, we start an open conversation that shoots down any speculation, giving us a greater sense of transparency.

After all, it’s the ways in which we handle these difficult situations that lend the greatest credibility–not necessarily the situations themselves, but our responses.

For the informed, there exists a need to initiate that open conversation, and to do so as soon as appropriate. Take, for example, the most recent school-wide email that the administration sent out Wednesday morning concerning the safety of students walking home, which also detailed a request for additional Sheriff patrol. This occurrence is precisely the type of communication we’re looking for–the start of a relevant conversation that both acknowledges and proposes a solution to the problem.

Indeed, it means that trust, especially in the school setting, is earned through communication. We understand that credibility is built upon and, more importantly, must be sustained for future incidents. The administration’s clarity in how the right people handled the situation as it happened, along with how others should respond, is exactly what we need. We do, however, have to acknowledge that information about every juicy detail can be unnecessary, even distracting.

At the same time, the uninformed hold a responsibility to be accountable for their words, taking care not to distort the truth or add fuel to the fire. When rumors start, completely unrelated incidents suddenly tie in together, and extreme, exaggerated accounts prevail. The truth can be easily lost in the mess of word of mouth, and, even more so, there is a lingering attitude of suspicion: “What are you hiding from me?” Instead, avoid jumping to conclusions by simply taking to heart only the right kind of confirmed information.

And, perhaps, this attitude of open communication goes beyond the realm of “big and dangerous events.” In fact, it plays an integral role in practically everything we do–especially the “little” things. Let’s take this spirit of openness one step further by challenging ourselves to actively keep the conversations going.

By Editorial Board

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