Administration, students should learn from events of last week

The Authur Pendragon incident of two Sundays ago, and all of the chaos that followed, certainly bears many lessons for the University’s administration. In an age of social media, in which rumors travel at the speed of light from one smartphone to the next, it is incredibly easy for mass hysteria to set in during a crisis, fake or not, when the institution responsible for handling said crisis remains strikingly silent until after it’s over. 

The unrest that pervaded among students for the following week, the dissatisfaction students and their families have expressed for the University’s response and the general distrust many have for the University’s reassurances of calm and safety, are all direct results of the administration’s early failure to keep students apprised of the Tutwiler situation. Obviously, the administration should re-evaluate how it responds to similar situations.

That said, the administration is not the only party which must take lessons from last week, nor is it the only party to be blamed for campus unrest. We students must learn something here as well.

First, we must understand that if there had ever been any imminent danger, the University would not have waited so long to send out an email. In fact, when there was actually an armed individual who attacked the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house in November 2012, the University wasted no time in informing every student on campus via multiple avenues and advising all students to stay away from the area. Those of us who were students at the time are able to find the email the University sent about this incident with a quick search of our Crimson accounts.

Second, we must understand that in the absence of such notification, chances are that there is no imminent danger. Rumors aren’t the only things that can travel at the speed of light. Advisories from UAPD, UANews, The Crimson White and WVUA do as well. If no such advisories have been sent, then it is reasonable to believe that there is nothing we urgently need to be advised about.

Our third lesson is something we’ve all probably heard our grandmothers say a thousand times: don’t believe everything you hear. Or in the case of Yik Yak, everything you read. The nature of social media allows anyone to post anything with little to no accountability. Take all of it with a grain of salt, and don’t share anything unless you know it to be incontrovertible fact.

Fourth, and most importantly, don’t panic. People like Pendragon, who has not been arrested at the time of this column’s writing, do the things they do for the rush of power they obtain through the fear of others. Indeed, when Pendragon was confronted with the consequences of his actions through a comment made by another YouTube user, his response could only be described as emboldened. It is no stretch of the imagination to foresee further threats coming from this individual, and how we, as a campus, react to such threats will influence his future actions. Bearing that in mind, the best thing we can possibly do is maintain our composure, and ensure that the impact we allow Authur Pendragon to have on our lives is as minimal as possible. Anything more is further encouragement.

Andrews Parks is a senior studying political science. His column runs biweekly.

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