Editorial: Address campus tragedies

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Editorial: Address campus tragedies

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April 27, 2007
By Editorial Board

It is a tough line to walk: simultaneously respecting those affected by tragedy and reassuring the community in a time of crisis. This year has seen numerous examples of the administration's sincere efforts to negotiate that line with the handful of student suicides and most recently with its response to Stanford students on the Virginia Tech shootings.

But in each of those cases, we wish the administration would have spoken directly to all of us, or in instances in which they did, perhaps spoken sooner. An unknown number of classmates have taken their lives this year with no acknowledgement at all by the administration. Last week, it was more than 24 hours until we received an official response to the Virginia Tech tragedy.

Undoubtedly, many factors go into the process for announcing a death in the community or responding to a tragedy at another school. In phone and email conversations, Director of University Communications Alan Acosta and Vice Provost for Student Affairs Greg Boardman said that the issue of family privacy rights should not be overlooked.

While Acosta acknowledged that "there are a number of things you have to do right away" when dealing with tragedy, we don't understand entirely how the University's support network of Counseling and Psychological Services, the Bridge Peer Counseling Center or the Office of Religious Life assists students who are merely trying to determine if the rumor of their classmate's death is true or not. This year alone, rumors of numerous suicides plagued the student body, and in those times it was hard to find a student who really knew the truth of what was happening at Stanford.

Boardman's email to the student body the day after the Virginia Tech shooting was appreciated. Students needed to hear his support — we just wish it had come a little earlier. Those who live and work here expect Stanford to be there for them. The student body was never notified after some suicides. We do not expect a front-page story in the Stanford Report from the administration, but we do hope for a brief message to acknowledge a friend has passed away.

<b>Comments on this article:</b>

<b>Stupid editorial</b> - 4/27/07

What exactly is the editorial board asking for? The administration to send out mass e-mails detailing every aspect of a community member&#39;s death? The Stanford News Service already acknowledges (in a tasteful way!) Stanford community members who pass away. Maybe it was a slow news day today, but the Stanford Daily needs to realize that a student death is a rare occurrence, but if one does occur, the utmost sensitivity is required and respect for the families should be a top priority. This is obvious to everyone but those intrepid Daily writers? We need to remember that these are very private, delicate matters and families might not wish to broadcast all kinds of details to the world. That is perfectly understandable and, absent any danger to campus safety or any other issue that might require the immediate attention of the campus at large, there is no reason why the widespread dissemination of all details surrounding a particular death ought to be required for Stanford News Service. The following line from the editorial is particularly ridiculous: "This year alone, rumors of numerous suicides plagued the student body, and in those times it was hard to find a student who really knew the truth of what was happening at Stanford." So the paper is basing this whole editorial on rumors? What evidence does the paper have that a particular death was never acknowledged by the administration? Sometimes it seems like the Stanford Daily editorials are written hastily and with little regard for common sense.

<b>Re: Stupid editorial</b> - 4/27/07

I totally agree that this is a stupid editorial. The Stanford Daily was recently criticized for a long delay before they reported the death of Mo Morsette. And even when they did report it, it was not the top story of the day. It looks like, after some soul searching, the editorial board has decided that Stanford Administration is to blame, because the administration doesn&#39;t acknowledge student deaths quickly enough. After all, if someone doesn&#39;t tell the Stanford Daily that there&#39;s a death on campus, then how are they supposed to know? It&#39;s not like they&#39;re a NEWSPAPER with JOURNALISTS who are supposed to so FOOTWORK before they print stories.

<b>Daily is grasping at straws </b>- 4/27/07

The Daily&#39;s editorials have been going downhill for quite a while now. This one is perhaps one of their worst ever. What exactly is the benefit of criticizing the administration&#39;s response to the VT massacre?

<b>Brave Editorial</b> - 4/27/07

Stupid Editorial, it&#39;s your kind of overly sensitive, well-meaning but ultimately silly thinking that lets Bush get away with banning the media from soldier&#39;s funerals. I can understand respecting the family&#39;s privacy, but Mo Morsette was also a fellow member of this community - I would expect a complete investigation into what led him to take his own life, not in the interest of airing dirty laundry, but in the interest of helping other people who feel the same emotions that plagued him. This school is an intense psychological environment filled people whose incredible intelligence often dovetails with complete social maladjustment - it does not reflect well on Stanford to sweep things like this under the rug in the interest of "privacy."

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Original Source: <a href="http://daily.stanford.edu/article/2007/4/27/editorialAddressCampusTragedies">
Stanford Daily - April 27, 2007</a>

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Editorial Board

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Stanford Daily

Date

2007-06-13

Contributor

Sara Hood

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Permissions granted by
James Hohmann
Editor-in-Chief
The Stanford Daily
<jhohmann@stanford.edu>

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eng

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Editorial Board, "Editorial: Address campus tragedies," in The April 16 Archive, Item #512, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/512 (accessed November 24, 2014).