Staff Ed: AU’s terrible record on communication needs to change

The Eagle has been criticizing AU’s lack of communication with the student body for years.

Back in September, The Eagle raised concerns with the administration for not alerting students about Professor David Pitts.

Unfortunately, the University has continued with this trend, even as more dangerous situations have emerged.

The Eagle reported on Oct. 19 that a student at London’s King’s College, where nine AU students are studying, allegedly had ties with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and had plotted a terrorist attack against the city. Shockingly, AU did not contact any of the AU students studying abroad in London.

The Eagle contacted AU Communications to clarify what they were doing to make sure their students were safe. While we were given the answers to some of our questions, the department referred The Eagle to a link on its website to answer numerous questions.

This failure in communication was not an isolated incident.

In late September, a 41 year-old School of International Service student died after being hit by a bus off campus. Again, the school did not contact students in any way to alert them to this event. Students instead had to read about the tragedy in the Washington Post.

And, yet again, when The Eagle asked for further information we were directed to three different people before finally speaking with someone willing to provide a comment.

The main problem is not the administration’s apparent refusal to talk to The Eagle, even though it is concerning. We work hard as student journalists and are prepared to dig for our stories.

But the general AU student body should not have to search for information on the well-being of their classmates, or the status of their own safety.

If the school really wants to foster a strong community on campus, they need to start caring about what happens to students off campus. It’s disrespectful to students to assume that we will not be concerned about one of our classmates just because she is a non-traditional student. And it's simply dangerous to not inform students on potential attacks where they are living. AU’s lack of communication is sending a strong but likely unintended message: that they just don’t care about their students. If they are going to promote all of the good things the school has to offer, then they have to work on addressing the bad things as well.

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