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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Mount Alvernia Head Shaving Scandal Bias

So, in the last few days, one of the most viewed stories on the Courier Mail website has been regarding the Mount Alvernia girl who was suspended for shaving her head in support of her father's battle with leukaemia (link here, image linked from article).

The story first appeared as a news item on Monday night's Channel Nine News in Brisbane and by Tuesday had gone national. As I look at the story tonight, two days later, it is still one of the most viewed and discussed stories, with 279 comments.

Typically, when one of these stories about outrage and disgust at a private school's apparently strict rules comes about, I would feel disgust as well. But I'm a Padua old boy - the brother school of Mount Alvernia - and, this time, it didn't sound right to me. I find it hard to believe that there's not anything more to this than what is being reported.

From the Mount Alvernian girls that I've spoken to in the last few days, they're devastated by the dark shadow that's been cast upon them and their school. They agree that the whole story is not being reported.

I don't know and have never met Emily Pridham or her family. The girls I've spoken to have their opinions on her and what's happened, but those opinions are theirs and not for me to repeat nor endorse. For the tough and traumatic battle the Pridhams are going through at the moment with leukaemia, they deserve our sympathy and support, no doubt about that.

But 97% of the reporting of this story really has come only from the girl involved and her mother. Really go and read the story. Watch the video of the news report. In all of the reporting of this, Mount Alvernia is given a two word quote as their response: "ongoing issues". And yet, go to the Mount Alvernia website and see the full statement that was made. No news outlet has picked up on nor reported this official statement from the school's principal. Here is an extract.

I write with reference to the media reports of the suspension of a student from Mount Alvernia yesterday. Sadly for our college community, the media reports that have been aired do not accurately represent the situation. We value and respect the rights of every young woman in our community and we will continue to respect this student’s right to privacy by not making public details of the disciplinary issues involved.

As a Franciscan school our philosophy is to actively assist those in need and we do this on a daily basis. It is distressing that necessary caring guidance provided to this student over a range of issues has been misrepresented. Her father’s illness has been known at the college and we have continued to actively support the student and her family throughout the years they have been associated with the college. It is unfortunate that this head shaving incident has received wide publicity when all the facts are not known.

Mount Alvernia is taking the high road, whether they want to or not. Their hands are tied (possibly, legally) on what they can say about the girl and hence they're doomed to take the brunt of the media beat-up. And it's not fair.

I'm not saying Emily is right or wrong, or Mount Alvernia is right or wrong - I don't know. Like I said, anyone who is experiencing the devastation brought about by leukaemia deserves sympathy and prayer. I just wish, AS USUAL, there was adequate coverage given to both sides so there wouldn't be 200+ gullible, Catholic school bashing Courier Mail readers and the 4,600+ members of the Facebook group who seem willing to burn a good school to the ground because they read/saw a report on one side of the argument.

Donations can be made to the Leukaemia Foundation - http://www.leukaemia.org.au

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thankyou so much for this