PR or Not to P-R

Did Arizona State University handle the recent on-campus suicide appropriately?

As a part-time ASU student, I am almost certain that I would not have heard about the incident as promptly if it weren’t for the ASU Mobile Text System. According to KHPO’s Website “An alert went out on the school’s emergency text-messaging system about 30 minutes after the event.” Weeks after the unfortunate death of a graduate student, I am still unaware as to who it was or where the suicide took place. I tried to search for the story of ASU’s website, tweaking my keyword search over and over again but nothing came up.

Did ASU do the “right thing” by covering the story’s tracks? The question “on-campus” is that this incident was managed by President Crow in attempt to salvage the University (and his own) reputation to ASU families, students, faculty members and investors. Personally, I feel this situation was handled very politically, whether President Crow implemented it or not. I do not agree with the tactics ASU took to leak the story to the media and manage ASU’s national appearance. ASU is a huge university, therefore the way things are dealt with are conducted very business-like (to say the least). As an ASU student, any implementation of the sorts will seem as a national wide initiative. An example of this is like when Mormon students were able to apply for closer parking spots due to ASU’s relationship with the Mormon Church in Arizona.

Since the suicide on October 28th, ASU has launched a “Depression & Suicide” Website, to increase students’ knowledge of mental health conditions and why people commit suicide. According to KPHO’s website ASU offered counseling the following afternoon for those who may have known the student who committed suicide Monday on campus.

Week after week we read the universities newspaper, The State Press, and we uncover the humiliating recent arrests in Tempe and the domestic violence charges. How did the recent suicide’s importance vanish from the media’s attention, and the student’s interest?

Having lost one of my friends to the Virginia Tech Macaque, I feel a media/public relation with university violence needs to be delicately handled. A story like as a suicide graduate student who took his life in front of his professor should not be covered-up the least bit. If incidences like this are not handled head-on, we are subject to another act of violence on campus. VT learned their lesson by not questioning the mental conditions of the murder when faculty had been skeptical of one student’s behavior. I believe “TO P-R” because it is better to be “in the know” then not be aware of what is going on around you.

Does this incident alarm Arizona’s Board of Regents to implement a third academic reorganization? As of now, no reputation of ASU’s has been tarnished. Even after being known as the “number one party school in the country” ASU is a proactive (some would say business-like) university that implements change.

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2 Responses to PR or Not to P-R

  1. sferrer says:

    Claudia,
    I definitely believe ASU has been trying to steer away from the “top party school” reputation even prior to the tragic suicide incident. Having President Obama speak at last year’s commencement and renaming the university as the “New American University” are some proactive changes. In regards to the recent incident, President Michael Crow also released an E-blast to the ASU community about the loss of one of students and recommended links to the Counseling Centers at ASU and Student Advocacy and Assistance. I was part of a discussion whether the student and professor’s name should be released to the public. It’s traditional for the media to be sensitive to releasing names of victims but the names are usually published in honor of that person. I always think of the Columbine massacre with situations like this. I definitely believe the public and community has the right to know about this situation being that it happened at a public university that is funded by tax payers. I think the president of our university handled the situation well by not holding back information and promptly making action with crisis managment tactics.

  2. edean says:

    Claudia,
    I agree with you on some level. Since the situation has already happened and students have been informed, the story should be available to those wanting to figure out more. I also agree with you on the elusive nature of ASU’s crisis management. I greatly appreciate the text system but feel it is necessary to follow up so we aren’t left wondering. Whether it is ASU trying to cover up its favor of Mormonism (which the majority of students are well aware of) or the recent suicide, we have a right to know the facts. On the other hand, suicide is a very sensitive situation among the loved ones of the deceased so ethics becomes an issue.

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