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NC deserves clarity after social media scandal [staff editorial]

The Chant staff

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A social media scandal shook NC on Wednesday, March 8 when a screenshot of a student’s racist comment traveled through Snapchat. NC’s administration seemingly aggravated the incident through a lack of meaningful communication with the student body, resulting in an unnecessary three-day panic. We, as the student representatives of The Chant, believe that both the students and parents deserved better.

The Snapchat, originally brought to the administration’s attention by a teacher and later posted on Facebook by a parent, included a longing for the return of slavery and use of the n-word and other derogatory terms for African-Americans. The administration emailed parents on Wednesday morning, explaining that the school knew of the problem but providing no real security.

Principal Bucky Horton talked to students over the school’s morning news broadcast, Tomahawk Today, on Thursday morning and the school sent out a full-page letter to parents Thursday at noon. The letter covered the administration’s feelings on the subject, and also mentioned recent successes to increase the school’s reputation.

“The message was deplorable and we denounce everything about it… in the midst of this disturbing behavior, we have also witnessed many students adhering to the high moral standards we uphold as the Warrior Nation,” the letter said.

Still, its vague nature, and the fact that administration only disseminated the facts to parents, caused uproar in the students who felt powerless.

According to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the administration cannot legally release the student’s discipline record, so instead, NC settled on vague promises of safety; however, simply telling the student body and parents that “all is well and [they] are moving forward with [their] day” without providing a plan of action does not fix the situation, and focusing on the school’s successes to save face feels like a shallow dismissal of the comment, leaving scared and threatened students in the dark.

NC should instead explain the way they will increase security and follow through with the plan, giving parents and students peace of mind. The administration attempted to disseminate this information through student leadership organizations including the Black Student Union and Tribal Connections, but it further muddled the situation as students tried to pry information out of their peers and rumors flew. The panic that caused swaths of students to stay home from school on Friday, March 10 for fear of the culprit returning to school, would have been easily ameliorated by this kind of message. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that 310 students missed school on Friday due to these fears.

No student should feel threatened at their place of learning, and a simple implication of safety will not satisfy the students or community.

Furthermore, local parents and news agencies added to the panic by spreading incorrect information through Facebook and misleading news posts.

“At one point they were saying the kid was wearing a Trump hat at school and got arrested in class, but he wasn’t even on campus. The public had run crazy with what was going on,” Horton said.

Another news station, CBS 46, initially talked to only two sources that represented a minority of opinion and sensationalized the event, spreading misinformation and failing at its one job as a news station.

As an organization that strives for journalistic integrity, The Chant deplores the behavior of local media; furthermore, the Kennesaw community deserves better than an overdramatized account that drags NC’s name through the mud. It deserves accurate and timely information, uncorrupted by the rumor mill and the media’s penchant for doing anything for views.

The Chant believes that both NC’s administration and the local media and community failed while handling this scandal; likewise, they caused unnecessary panic and publicized a message that gave the student exactly what he wanted: chaos and attention.

The students of NC and local community members deserve better. We deserve updates on the events of our school, safety at our weekday home, and trust in an administration that places its trust in us, rather than providing a continual cover-up to salvage the school’s reputation.

Let NC not stoop to the shameful level of this student; let it rise above and promote unity through mutual trust and security, and a vow to be as transparent as the law allows. No longer should NC students live in the dark.

 

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “NC deserves clarity after social media scandal [staff editorial]”

  1. Nadya Awino on March 13th, 2017 9:17 PM

    I love this!!!! Y’all did great, NSPA will be proud

     

    [Reply]

  2. Nina Shack on April 17th, 2017 3:04 PM

    “deserves clarity” AH HA

     

    [Reply]

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The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.
NC deserves clarity after social media scandal [staff editorial]