We at The Lawrentian feel that there is a serious issue with disclosure amongst Lawrence staff and students. When we are notified of an issue on campus, it is often without a full account of the details, or it is perhaps premature. Lawrence is a small school, with a penchant for gossip. Gossip is easy to hear, easy to pass on, and equally easy to mistake and misconstrue.Unfortunately, in our opinion at The Lawrentian, gossip and all the falsehood that goes along with it is only further fueled by the somewhat misleading mass emails from senior staff members.
However, this issue is not to be solved easily. There are serious legal ramifications for the disclosure of false information, thus Lawrence University does not divulge details that are in any way speculative.
However, it is often the lack of details which further spurs the Lawrence gossip networks. Until we know anything concrete (we usually learn concrete details from Facebook or from “firsthand” sources), speculation can mount to ridiculous levels.
For an example by which to prove the danger of speculation, we turn to an incident that took place on campus several years ago. There were reports of a stalker, or attacker, on the Newberry Trail, a trail that runs quite close to campus and is typically used by students for exercise.
We as a student body were not given all the information to make informed choices regarding this “stalker”; we were, however, given a warning not to use the trail. We were also bombarded by police renderings of him. We at The Lawrentian think that this caused undue stress to many students, especially female students.
While it is possible that anyone could have accessed more information from the Appleton Police or Post-Crescent, these choices may not be immediately obvious to many students, and we should not have to look outside of our university for information regarding safety on our campus.
Is there a middle ground to be reached between appropriate disclosure in legal terms, and appropriate disclosure in terms of Lawrence campus dynamics?