I’m not sure if this belongs here, in General Questions, MPSIMS, or Great Debates…we shall see. My question is simply this–Do we have a right to know ALL that happens in ALL torrid/controversial situations? And, are there indeedc times when keeping information private (when large numbers of people are affected) is best?
This whole Melin/Jill mess is reminiscent of a much larger fiasco that happened at my university. My junior year, I was in the top choir (a combined choir and orchestra of over 140) that was under the direction of a man who more or less made the music department. We had contracts with Disney, made 3-4 recordings a year, traveled the country, made commercials, etc. Three days before our sold-out Christmas concerts, he abruptly resigned at the beginning of rehearsal, saying it was due to “physical and emotional stress.” Stunned, we watched him leave the room, never to return, and the president of the university came in to introduce our new director.
I’ll never forget this: The university president actually told us not to talk about this man or his resignation. Not to ask why, not to try and guess why, not to talk about it AT ALL. It would be best for us if we didn’t, he said. We have to allow God (it was a Christian university) to heal this; let’s move on. We were slack jawed, and half the group was crying. The only thing he would tell us was that there was no serious physical problem (i.e., the now former director didn’t resign because he had cancer, etc.).
Yeah right, not talk about it. That worked. In my first class after this event, the prof walked in and asked, “Anyone in here in choir?” I raised my hand. “So, why did Dr. So and So resign?” The faculty didn’t even know. Administration had called an emergency faculty meeting to tell all other members that the man was resigning–then, the same thing. Don’t ask why, don’t talk about it, let’s move on. WHAT ever.
It gets hairier, but I’ll spare you most details. I also was an editor on the paper, the only person on staff who was also in this group. They all kept asking me, too. Several reporters and editors went to interview the president and others to try and determine what had happened, but no one would say. And because we were a paper owned by a private university, administration could literally cut out anything we printed about the man. It really, really sucked. We had a good deal of unconfirmed knowledge–and even confirmed–and could do nothing with it.
It’s been 5 years, and the rumor mill has been flying. I have several friends who were close to those involved, both the man himself and his “accuser,” and a story has slowly unfolded. From what I have come to understand, a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against him by a married female member of the choir; he had done nothing overt, but there had certainly uncomfortable, inappropriate comments and leery glances. The school did not want this to go public, and gave him the “resign or be fired” line. He resigned. However, the agreement was that NO ONE was to speak about what happened. (Magically, though, a new sexual harassment policy was created for the school.) The girl who filed had to quit choir, and not only that, she was told to keep herself out of the view on campus. The case was settled out of court, and she eventually moved out of state. He, meanwhile, just started out his own independent choir. (And from what I’ve told, he hasn’t changed his ways.) His name secures several recordings for this group every year, although the Disney contract was lost both to him and our school.
But the school administration remains screwed up over this, IMHO. To this day, no official word has gone out. Now I want to know–were we, are we ever entitled to officially know what happened? I understand details of the case would need to be kept private, but certainly more could’ve been said. (Of course, then people would want to know even more, i.e. the Starr report.) I know that as a private university, the school can pretty much conduct itself as it likes, but morally, ethically: Do the students, faculty, and all other persons directly involved in the school have a right to KNOW?
The only problem is, it seems that if you tell people a little, they get rabid and want to hear more…and more…and more…while the passions and indignations and mutinies rise.
And in the Melin/Jill situation, it’s the same question. What are your thoughts?
“Me fail English? That’s unpossible!”
“English? Who needs that? I’m never going to England.”