Poor Communication Hinders Progress

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Staff Editorial
Published: September 19, 2012

Fordham has a communication problem, and it’s not the type that causes confused, emotional breakups. It’s a recurring inability to communicate the goals of administrative policies to students and clubs at Fordham. We at The Observer saw it most recently in the media blackout around the “Cardinal and Colbert” event.

As Harry Huggins and Richard Ramsundar report in “Colbert Media Blackout Broken by Tweets” on page one, there was an unacceptable lack of communication between the Fordham higher-ups and the student publications tasked with reporting all major events on campus. The biggest problem is not that Fordham waited until we were literally lined up outside the event to tell us we would have to stash our cameras somewhere on campus. The biggest problem is not that it was only when we ran into two Lincoln Center administrators after the event that we were told we could not go through with our planned coverage. The biggest problem is that before we received the official explanation we were fully under the false impression, shared by many who knew of the blackout, that the blackout was stipulated in some contract with Stephen Colbert, Timothy Cardinal Dolan or both of them. As our article reported, the real reason was much simpler: the committee planning the event wished to create a more comfortable environment that would foster a sincere dialogue.

While the possibility of upholding a press blackout in a Twitter-ific world may be up for debate, we understand why those planning the event would hope to foster a tone of sincerity. But we don’t understand why Fordham would keep that unknown until after the event.

For those of us who have been at Fordham for a few years, this is just another instance of an established pattern of non-communication. The McMahon Hall guest pass policy is a source of endless frustration for residents, but it seems a little less like a pointless obstruction of fun when you discover it was developed to make sure unsavory guests could not do harm to residents and then sneak out unnoticed. You can’t begin debating the Catholic social aspect of the guest passes until you understand the safety hopes behind them.

The same difficulty happened annually with the “Vagina Monologues” when Counseling Services was not allowed to attend the performance’s debrief until last year, and it still happens regularly with the guest admission policy for on-campus student events. Only when you understand the goals of these policies can you effectively direct your frustration and start the kind of legitimate conversation that can bring about change. Unfortunately, that level of communication is about as rare as a legitimate celebrity coming to Fordham.