Why the delayed communication from administration to students during this stressful time is not only unacceptable but not Christlike
“Hey guys expect an email tonight that the school is going online.”
“I heard everyone has to be quarantined.”
“There were a group of students who were travelling with others who had the virus, does that mean APU has its first case?”
These are just a few of the rumors that began to spread almost immediately after APU students returned home from Spring Break the week of March 8.
After returning from a trip to Israel two days early myself, I was prepared for more questioning and testing from the university than the average student. However, a problem ensued since the measures that I was supposed to take were up in the air.
Within the first three days after we arrived home, the roughly 45 students from the Israel Passages trip had been told everything from “make an appointment at the health center,” to “self-isolate,” to “mandatory isolation, we will provide units if necessary.”
We received somewhere in the vicinity of five emails within three days providing us with differing information.
On top of being a special case of returning home from a foreign country, we were all dealing with the communication that was, or more accurately was not, coming from APU directly. With rumors spreading about what happened to Israel students, fear and anxiety began to spread around the school.
This anxiety was not eased by a complete lack of communication or any kind of emails from the administration of the university until Thursday morning.
So, why is this article worth writing? Is it just to complain about how uninformed the student body is?
No, but something does need to be done. It took three days before APU students heard a word about what was going to happen to their classes and their housing.
The first thing that needs to happen is that any faculty and administration should ensure they can trust who they are disseminating information to. One of the reasons so much panic and chaos ensued in students lives is because student workers heard mixed signals and messages from higher up. Without having any authority of our own, and wanting to inform our friends of what may be happening, false information spread like wildfire.
Information should be given out only from the highest levels, not just to anyone at any time.
Another option to consider is the more information the better. The system between those who make the decisions and the students is supposed to be fluid. We, as adults, do not deserve to have decisions thrown upon us without warning.
This could be very easily avoided. If the school had chosen to frequently update the students on the status of their decisions and why it took so long, there would be less chaos. In situations like these, ignorance leads to chaos and panic, not bliss.
Last night, ABC reported that APU was going completely online. This was a day before APU students found out from the university. According to University Relations (UR), this was merely ABC making an assumption based on a petition created by students, but even so, students should have been the first to know.
That said, according to UR, “information, and much more, was also available and frequently updated on the APU website. The university also sent communication to faculty, staff, and parents. In addition, students in Study Away programs were sent additional communication pertaining to their travels.”
Though the university did send out emails, specifically on Jan. 30, Feb.14, Feb. 28, March 6 and March 9, there were hours, and even days, between for students to panic. This is simply not okay.
The time lapses between emails created a situation for students to make up their own stories and guesses as to what’s happening, inciting more fear.
My experience over the last year and a half, and this week specifically, with the university’s communication has been filled with much frustration and misinformation.
I understand that there are things APU is not allowed to tell students. I understand needing to keep things under wraps until they are final. However, if the student body is constantly left in the dark until a final decision is made, APU is allowing its students to be ruled by fear, and not hope.
I am not asking that students hear every detail and be a part of every conversation. I am asking that we stay in the loop and remain informed throughout the process.
With such emphasis and focus on community, it is a wonder why there is not an equal focus on dissemination of information and conversation. Without healthy communication, there will never be a healthy community on this campus.
To live in ignorance is to allow ourselves to be ruled by fear. Romans 13 tells us to submit to earthly authority, but we should never forget how many times “do not be afraid,” is spoken in the Bible.
APU must remember that its main mission is to instruct how to live as Christlike as possible. Living in fear is not living God first. Keeping students in the dark is not teaching them to trust in God above all else.
So maybe, when the next area of confusion arises, the university should provide more information and updates. Saying “nothing has changed” is better than leaving everyone to make up their own story.
Community requires communication.