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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Communication is Key!

Last semester, Spelman College was faced with a shocking story when students and faculty learned that 19-year old Beverly Garrett had committed suicide. On the night of October 24, 2011, the campus flooded with police officers and fire trucks, leaving students in a state of confusion. Some had figured out the source of the commotion while others were left to piece everything together from social networks and through word of mouth. Rumors filled the dorm hallways: “She was shot by a stray bullet.”, “She stabbed herself.” Following the disheartening event, the following week it was still unclear as to what had happened. Within a week’s notice, an email was sent to invite students and staff to a ceremony that was held to celebrate the life of Garrett, but sources no explanation was given. Weeks following the incident, pamphlets were sent out about suicide and ways to eliminate stress during exams. Over time, students have taken part of the Spelman experience and remained oblivious to the negative and controversial events that have taken place both on and off campus. Originally in the Spelman Spotlight (The schools newspaper) student ran, students were given more lee way and opportunities to speak and inform the entire student body. When asked about the content of the paper, newspaper advisor Dean Ferguson one of the main facilitators when it comes to what is released about students by students, whether it is through the student run newspaper or in a pamphlet. As the Dean of Students, she is very adamant about allowing students to have a voice. When asked about the content of the paper, Ferguson explained that the division of Student Affairs is very much supportive of a student driven paper. "A survey was conducted to allow students the opportunity to choose what they want to see in the newspaper." says Ferguson. Although this is a good strategy to see what preferences the students have for the schools paper in general, it does not elaborate on the types of controversial issues that should also be included in the paper. By law, Spelman College along with other schools and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs, are required to track and disclose data about reported crimes on or near campus. “This information includes, but is not limited to, a daily crime log and timely notification of campus crimes that may pose a threat to safety. This law became known as the ‘Clery Act,’ and took effect in 1990.” This is from the Spelman College Census Information Center. Hopefully with new students coming in the fall, changes will be made to accommodate the students more, and the issues that take place are to be communicated to the student body to eliminate confusion and the creation of misconceptions.In the past certain situations have been communicated, but over time the focus of informing the students and surrounding community has truely fallen off. From Jasmine Lynn to Beverly Garrett: wouldn't they want the community to know their story, to possibly save the lives of others.

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