No Information Means Disinformation


I’ve been waiting all day for a message, an official statement, an email or even a post on social media. What happened Sept 27 around 9 pm at The Nest was not exactly a fire drill, and we deserve an explanation as far as our safety is directly concerned.

As I returned from the library, the fire alarm in The Nest building began to sound. At first, we thought it was just a practical joke or that someone smoking in the rooms activated the smoke detector. But then I saw that WhatsApp message: a resident “is naked in our hallway with a hammer. Slamming the doors.” I did not understand anything. I went to the back of the parking lot and then I saw a couple of fire engines, the police and an ambulance. Minutes later, three police officers carried someone tied to a wheelchair and covered with a sheet through the back door. One of the policemen had a hammer in his hand.

I went to sleep late with an uneasy sensation after talking to the other residents about what had happened, about the different versions of what people think happened, trying to figure out a reasonable explanation. The next morning came, and I started asking the clerks at the counter, but they did not know what happened (or were unable to tell). The only information from the manager’s office was a declaration to NEIU Independent, “no comment to the media,” which is the company policy of American Campus Communities, the private corporation that runs The Nest. Despite having asked insistently using the official channels, as residents, the only information we have obtained in response are two posts on Instagram.

In the first, @thenestatneiu published a post with a Tik Tok video, in which a cute dinosaur dances and wags his tail with the Leasing Manager of the Nest while drawing a heart in the air with his arms. That video is certainly not what I expected to see that morning. I looked further down in the comments to see if the dinosaur was just a fun way to present less fun information. But no, it read, “Rawr in dinosaur means I love you! (emoji heart and dinosaur). We are so excited for Resident Appreciation Week! … “

“I don’t understand anything,” I told myself and turned off the phone. Hours later, when reopening Instagram, I found another post from The Nest. “Apparently, since there are no dinosaurs, it may contain more relevant information”, I thought. In the post, there was a photo of the common room on the sixth floor, -yes -, where everything happened, but wait a minute … it does not mention anything about it. It said, “Hey future teachers! (hands clapping, book) Stop by The Nest 1st Floor Lobby from 2 pm-4 pm this Thursday (9/30) for a meet and greet with the Goodwin College Education!”

This has been all the information that the residents of the Nest have obtained. Only two publications on Instagram: a dancing dinosaur for reducing the gravity of the matter and a photo of the sixth floor to show that everything is still in its place as if nothing had happened. But the problem is that something happened and it is not so easy to forget. I do not like playing that worst-case scenario game, but it is not difficult to imagine one where much more could have happened. 

The policy of the company of American Campus is “no comment” to the media, but what about to the residents? To the clients who religiously pay non-negligible amounts to live in a safe and healthy environment? Acting as if nothing had happened in a crisis situation is not an answer; it is a lack of response. No comments regarding the incident is not a company policy; it is a lack of policy to deal with it. Not providing relevant information to customers is not providing a service for which they are paying. No information about the incident means disinformation … and in the meantime, we are still trying to figure out what happened. We are still waiting for an explanation or at least a simple message addressing the incident.