Press enter after choosing selection

When Rumors Buzz, Pupils Have Solutions

When Rumors Buzz, Pupils Have Solutions image
Parent Issue
Copyright Protected
Rights Held By
Donated by the Ann Arbor News. © The Ann Arbor News.
OCR Text

During the recent racialdfsturbances at Pioneer and Huron High schools, rumors of all sorts spread like wildfire among parents and students. Most of them - such as reports that parents were beaten up by pólice at Pioneer and large numbers of students were stabbed at both high schools - turned out to be false. . But they fanned the fires of fear and resentment. Students at both schools carne up with a solution, however. They founded Rumor Control Centers to answer or help answer the often wild tales with the facts as could best be known. The Parent-Teacher-Student Organization at Scarlett Junior High School also set up a special telephone line on Nov. 15 to answer rumors in that building (971-4802). Huron High School's Student Council set up its Rumor Control center first, on Nov. 11, during the troubles at Pioneer High. Javier Ergueta, Student Council president at Huron, which were being quizzed dursays many Huron students were extremely upset about alleged happenings at Pioneer. Joe Vaughn, a Huron senior who has helped man the center, says he thinks the rumors which floated around the Huron halls helped increase the problems at Pioneer. "A lot of the kids at Huron are related to kids at Pioneer, and they'd I ear stories about their cousins or friends getting beaten up and would go over to Pioneer to see what was going on." Huron's Rumor Control center was opened after the racial tensions there had cooled, but both Ergueta and Vaughn think the earlier disturbances at Huron could have been toned down if the center had been functioning earlier. "There was no way the administration could get the word out to the kids as to what was really happening during the trouble at Huron," Ergueta explained. Huron's Rumor Control Center has been manned by student volunteers. It has its own telephone extensión (769-3200, ext. 303). When parents telephone in to check on a rumor, or students walk in to ask questions, the volunteers try to get the appropriate facts from administrative or pólice sources. "We only teil people the facts. We don't pass along any I rumors," Ergueta emphasized. The Center was deluged with calis and student visitors the first day of its operation, Ergueta said. Rumors were rampant, and included reports that Pioneer High had been shut down (it hadn't); parents had been beaten up by pólice at Pioneer (untrue); a girl had been beaten up in the restroom at Huron (untrue); fights had broken out at Scarlett and S 1 a u s o n junior highs (false), and a white girl had been stabbed in the leg at Pioneer (true). s Most of the rumors turned out to be false. Vaughn thinks Huron's Rumor Control Center has been "very valuable," and Ergueta hopes to keep it going on a permanent, expanded basis. His hopes are to expand it to a type of service in which students could get all types of questions answered - not just during crisis situations. Ergueta feels the center at Huron has been successful in i n c r e a sing communication among students, though not quite as successful as he had wished because he and his staff found it impossible to check out many of the rumors with students. Thus the students didn't always trust the answers. Another way in which Ergueta and the Student Council are hoping to increase student communication is with bi-monthly newsletters, telling what Student Council and other student groups are doing. The first newsletter carne out shortly after the Huron disturbances, and gave the facts about the turmoil as could best be determined. Although a Rumor Control Center was set up at Pioneer High, it did not handle a deluge of calis such as at Hu! ron High. "The reason for this is that we have had a Student Activities Office in opperation fox three years which handles i problems like this and many others," says Assistant Principal Dr. Charles Eastwood. I "However, the Rumor 1 trol Center, set up by Student I Council President Sherman I Whitman, has worked through I the Student Activities Office I and has been a big help." ! Huron High does not have a I Student Activities Office such I as Pioneer's which is under I the full-time guidance of Dr. I Eastwood. I 'We are always here to help students with problems as well as offer student organizations a place to meet in committee, supply free telephone I service to all students, etc. I We also have a large bulletin board to list all student activities. In short, we try to be of whatever service is needed by the student body and our doors are open to everyone at any time. We have two direct telephone lines to handle such emergencies as the rumors which were being quized during the recent disturbances. We tried to answer only factual questions, not such queries as: 'Was there pólice brutality?' The Student Councü's Rumor Control Center was a big help in manning these calis and is still helping us out when needed," Dr. Eastwood continúes. "We're not trying to deemphasize the importance of a Rumor Control Center, but we do feël that something further has to be done," says Senior Class President Mark Nicolaides. Nicolaides and other members of the Senior Executive Board have worked together with the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO), Pioneer administrators and teachers and the Ann Arbor Pólice Department to schedule a mass meeting Monday night of all concerned with the recent turmoil. 1 "This will be the first time that blacks and whites alike ; have met to discuss the 1 lem and get to the cause of : such disturbances. We hope to formúlate a citizens group to implement recommendations from all factions represented," Nicolaides explains. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bruce McPherson, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Frederick Holliday, Dr. Cari Gingler, president of the PTO, Pioneer High Principal Joseph Pollack, Ann Arbor Pólice Community Relations Director Lt. Kenneth Klinge and student officers from all Pioneer High classes will be among those attending the 7:30 p.m. meeting at the high school. All concerned parents and students are welcome to attend. "Rumor Control Centers serve a real purpose during times of disturbance. But we are optimistic that this i mg will start the ball rolling in the right direction toward preventing such turmoil in the future and thus elimínate the need of such an organization," says Dr. Eastwood.