City College has now spent $35,550 on an image consultant to improve its relationship with Santa Barbara residents.
Desperate to better its communication, the college has failed to recognize The Channels student newspaper as a resource for that purpose. Their fear of responding to negativity only allows misinformation to fill in the gap.
The Channels Editorial Board feels our dedication and commitment to the school and community is being met with evasive tactics and secrecy. As a college promoting student safety and success, the college’s actions in several instances diminished both. The college needs to recognize the tools it already has and use them.
The student newspaper is composed of informed and engaged students, whose stories show what makes our college an asset to the community. The articles cover successful students, educational programs, upcoming events, sustainability efforts and neighborhood outreach, to name a few.
Yet, our efforts have recently been met with roadblocks, forcing student reporters to take painstaking and unnecessary measures to report stories that should have been simple.
This semester there have already been two incidents in which the college’s lack of emergency preparedness led to fear and rumors.
The first surrounded the death of a food service facility operator due to a medical emergency earlier this semester. Several police cars were stationed on campus and rumors began to fly, and many students thought someone had been murdered.
The administration first released information to the campus at 7:46 a.m. in an email, stating that officers were dispatched and there was no reason for alarm.
The second email went out at 8:34 a.m., revealing it was a medical incident and no foul play was suspected.
The administration then waited until 5:15 p.m. to provide any more information, again in the form of an email.
Taking into account the 2014 Isla Vista tragedy and the alarming rate of mass-shootings in America, a vague email telling everyone things are fine does not suffice. That is not fair to students, staff or the community and does not support an environment of trust and safety.
During the almost 9 hours between emails, The Channels reached out to several sources in attempts to investigate but was shut down by all. It prevented the student media from fulfilling our duty to provide the community and student body with information.
The second incident was an unspecified threat made in an online chat room to the Santa Barbara community, which was handled by City College in a similar fashion of emails, vague wording and evasiveness.
Last semester, when investigating an alleged rape by a student athlete, our previous Editor-in-Chief was forced to file a public records act to receive the name of the student. We were told, “There are no secrets in this program,” by an instructor who then declined to provide information besides that a student was off the team.
This year isn’t the first time City College has spent a large sum of money to address communication issues. In 2010, it hired a similarly expensive consultant, with little reward.
In its recent report, SAE Communications repeatedly stressed the need for student success stories and well-rounded coverage of the college to reach the community.
No institution wants bad press, but shady tactics only fan negative flames.
Page 8 of the 107-page report states, “There is a strong desire to better inform external audiences and to promote the people who comprise the College – students, faculty, and staff – through the use of human interest stories.”
This is exactly what our student newspaper does. We cover news with the unique position of being a part of the institution we are writing about. We have the opportunity to inform the community and distill rumors in a way that email or Edhat simply cannot.
These are the stories that prove what an incredible institution we are. The Channels has the opportunity to knit communication regarding the school and community into one unified, reliable net; and it doesn’t cost $35,550.