Timely and truthful communication, the key to transparency


Kendal Manns, Editor-in-Chief

After two years of working as a reporter and editor, Kendal Manns, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, will take over as the 2022-23 editor-in-chief of The Hornet Tribune, the oldest Black college newspaper in the nation. His term began on May 1, 2022.

Communication is one of the most important attributes of human beings because humans are social beings. Because humans are social beings, it is extremely important for an institution like Alabama State University to provide truthful and timely communication to its faculty, staff and students, especially if the university desires to project a transparent atmosphere.
Without good communication, the truth can get lost in the shuffle. When no one knows the truth, they make their assumptions leading to confusion, misinformation and rumors. The student protest that occurred last spring is a prime example of what happens when truthful and timely communication is absent.
Students organized a protest in response to the university’s distribution of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Because the university had not informed the student body in advance of their formula for disseminating the funds from the federal government and because there were a number of schools in the state where their students received a larger amount of funds than our student body, the lack of communication led to a protest that could have been avoided had the communication proceeded the checks that the university disseminated. The protest, which many believed would lead to a more productive conversation at the very least, did not yield much change in the months to come.
Truthful and timely communication also allows everyone to hold each other accountable. From the university board of trustees, President Ross, the staff, faculty and students, everyone has a role and that role is important to the success of the university. All parties need to be held accountable for the university to be the best version of itself. Without that level of accountability, people can get complacent and with complacency comes mediocrity. People can and will continue to go through the motions if standards are not upheld.
It is unrealistic to think that there will be no problems during the school year. Things happen and problems arise, but good communication can lessen the severity of those problems. Now I am well aware that everything that happens on or with the university will not be disclosed, nor should it be. There are some things that must be held in confidence. However, when those things directly affect the student body, the university should be transparent with the student body without jeopardizing privacy laws.
Another good example of the lack of communication is the incident that occurred three weeks ago when the university decided that then Student Government Association Executive President Jeremi Moore could no longer serve as the SGA President and followed the order of succession by appointing Dylan Stallworth to succeed him. There were literally 12 days of rumors, questions, concerns and innuendos and finally, after 12 days of students wondering what was going on, an email was sent out informing the student body that Dylan Stallworth was the new SGA president. There was no mention of Moore, the student who was selected to lead the student body.
So, when occurrences like a new SGA president’s appointment is announced a month into the school year, gossip and harmful rumors take hold, however, when those things directly affect the student body, the student body deserves to know. Intricate details do not have to be disclosed, but I feel like the university waited too long to let the student body know what was going on, especially since news reports began to surface and the student body was involved in electing both individuals.
Another example of the lack of communication is the handling of the former Vice President of Student Affairs, Derrick Brewster. Brewster was basically here for a year and then he was not. There was no mention of his departure by the administration or an announcement of his replacement for that matter. His position was a recognizable one and to keep students in the dark about his departure – the vice president of STUDENT AFFAIRS – is crazy to even think about. Now I understand that employees come and go, but students deserve to know when an employee departs and who is that employee’s replacement. However to this date, no communication has been forwarded to the students.
There are several other examples that can be given, but for the sake of time, I will continue with my column.
Without real transparency and truthful communication, students begin to question the motives of their leadership and the university’s leadership and begin to believe that neither have their best interest at heart. That feeling of distrust should not exist on this campus or any other. Transparent communication is the key to building that relationship of trust.
How can the university expect students to fight for change and to learn from defining moments in our culture like the American Civil Rights Movement if we are not given the information needed to execute things like that?
Transparent communication is desperately needed on this campus. It creates a constructive environment. In that environment, everyone is held accountable, and mediocrity no longer has a place here. Problems will always arise, but transparency and truthful communication allows us to combat and solve them much easier.