Practicing Communication and Trust On Campus

by Sarah McLaughlin '23 on April 20, 2023

Editor's Column

A key part of what makes a community is building a bond of trust and communication. In general, the Providence College student body would agree that these things are important for fostering a healthy “Friar Family.” Many students have expressed concerns regarding the communication we receive regarding incidents that occur on campus. When students hear about on-campus incidents from rumors and social media prior to hearing from official sources—or in place of them entirely—we foster an environment of gossip, misinformation, and mistrust.

One example of students’ lack of knowledge is when fire alarms go off in dorm buildings. Often, these are fire drills, and at the beginning of the year, public safety officers meet with students outside to inform them of the safety and evacuation protocols. However, when the fire alarm goes off later on in the year, students are seemingly never informed of whether these instances are drills, someone pulling the alarm, or actual emergencies. “The fire alarm went off at 3 a.m. one night in Davis when it was below freezing, and we all had to evacuate, and we still have yet to learn why this happened,” one student recounted. This lack of information is what causes rumors to spread.

Regarding the incident which occurred off-campus on April 1, students received the information published by the College in an email, which reflects the press release The Cowl included in this week’s issue. This email was sent at 3:58 p.m., while the incident occurred in the morning, as this is when students noticed police activity on-campus. Students were not informed of what happened on-campus, only that an off-campus incident occurred, which fostered more confusion in an already confusing situation. Prior to finding out the name of the student involved by reading news articles, students took to social media to speculate. Names were thrown around which turned out to be completely incorrect. The fact that some students had to face these random accusations and gossip is the fault of both the students for jumping to conclusions instead of waiting for information and of the College for not sending timely updates on the situation.

One member of The Cowl’s editorial board spoke on the matter: “When it involves the safety of the Providence College community, we have the right to be informed of what’s going on. There’s not an efficient system and way of doing that—finding out hours after something happened is unacceptable.” The Cowl hopes we can speak on behalf of the student body when we say that we hope the College will consider our concerns.