Letter from the In-Depth editors | Fostering productive communication between Evanstonian, administration


Illustration by Sabrina Barnes

For the past three months, The Evanstonian’s In-Depth section has attempted to investigate the procedures and protocols in place for incident reporting at ETHS. We chose this topic due to another Evanstonian article that was published in November titled Color Guard captains recount culture of abuse, intensity under head coach. In this article, members of the ETHS Color Guard team reflect on their experience filing an incident report to ETHS. 

In December of 2021, as a staff of six writers and ETHS students, we wanted to further research the incident reporting policy at ETHS to better grasp what the correct protocol is when students report experiences, as well as to understand the ways in which the process could be improved and better support students. 

In our efforts to report on this topic, we reached out to the ETHS Deans, who are responsible for incident reports, as well as various members of the student services department such as administration and social workers. In our first attempt to contact representatives at ETHS, we were unable to obtain interviews. Then, due to the unprecedented shift to an adaptive pause, the week leading up to winter break, we opted to push the article to a future issue. 

In late January, we resumed our reporting, yet continued to face difficulties in contacting and receiving responses from staff at ETHS, who would offer vital insight into this topic. We were unable to continue pursuing the topic of incident reporting at ETHS since we could not contextualize the story with the perspectives of the people in charge of these reports. 

Our decision to no longer report this story was made with a heavy heart, since our mission as a student newspaper is to report on topics we find important to our student body. We had gathered experiences from students at ETHS who filed incident reports to the administration. We wanted to share their experiences which were wide-ranging, yet we felt it was negligent to do so without offering a comprehensive look at incident reporting, which would include the voices of ETHS staff and administration. 

This experience represents a broader problem The Evanstonian would like to address and solve. As an overall publication, recently we have faced difficulty communicating with ETHS administrators and staff in our reporting process. We understand the time constraints and busy schedules of the school’s administration and appreciate the work they do for students and the school at large. However, it is often necessary for our writers and editors to speak with administrators so that we can adequately and comprehensively report on a topic. As a part of our journalistic due diligence, we do not want to publish an article that leaves out a vital viewpoint. 

Our mission as a publication is to give voice to the community at large, and an essential component to that viewpoint is the administration. Without the input of students and administrators in tandem, we are unable to carry out our journalistic process. As a student publication, we are still developing our journalistic capabilities; we often rely on the wisdom of the administration to help guide our pieces, and when our attempts to gain their perspective fail, it not only hinders the quality of our articles, but also hurts our ability to learn and grow as journalists.

Moving forward, we ask that there is stronger communication between and ETHS administration. The input of the administration would help us to grow in our reporting and allow us to more fully cover subject matters we find important to the ETHS and Evanston community as well as the stories of students and other members of the ETHS community that deserve to be told. Moreover, we would like the administration to come to us with any comments and thoughts they have for us, in order to develop a stronger, more functional relationship, and likewise, the administration is open to speaking with members of The Evanstonian. 

To reiterate, we fully acknowledge the hectic workloads and busy schedules of the administration. We recognize the dedication that these community leaders have to ETHS, and we hope that we can develop a collaborative relationship in the future. We want to make clear that we welcome and encourage the administration to become involved with The Evanstonian. By working together, we can advance our shared goal of initiating meaningful change in the community.