Thursday, February 16, 2012
TCU takes hands-on approach in dealing with aftermath of drug arrests
TCU students held a vigil to help the community heal.
Eight days ago, Chancellor Victor Boschini said he learned an undercover drug investigation was taking place at TCU.
Boschini said he received a call at 6:20 a.m. Wednesday informing him that students had been arrested on suspicion of dealing drugs, and the university’s crisis management was underway. A campus-wide email notified students of the arrests at 8:05 a.m., and at 9:30 a.m., the university held a press conference to address the matter.
Local network affiliates interrupted their morning programming to report that Fort Worth and TCU police arrested 17 current and two former TCU students Wednesday morning following a six-month investigation. It is now confirmed by Fort Worth Police that 16 arrests have been made; one student is at-large and only one former student has been arrested.
“TCU should be commended because TCU has adhered to rule one in crisis management: tell the truth, and tell it fast,” associate professor of journalism Amiso George said.
George, who specializes in crisis management, said the university did all the right things. It remained transparent, took quick action, and separated the alleged offenders.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Boschini said, “I think most of our administration is big on transparency in general … because of social media and everything; nothing’s a secret.”
George said it was important that Boschini remained the one voice of the university.
The university announced that all questions would be directed to Boschini.
In addition, Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communication Tracy Syler-Jones said she hired a consultant, Teresa Valerio Parrot, through the Counsel for Advancement and Support of Education to help with the situation. Syler-Jones said she recognized her staff of 24 would need some additional help staying on top of the stories as information was made available.
“In this situation, we definitely needed some additional resources,” Syler-Jones said. “We knew it was probably going to be a little extensive for us.”
The story brought media outlets from the Dallas-Fort Worth area to campus, but some time after the press conference, reporters said they were asked to move off campus.
Student organizations, such as fraternities and sororities, sent emails to members reminding them to follow their respective organizations’ procedures for speaking with media.
Students expressed opinions elsewhere about the university’s situation via Twitter, and “TCU” was trending all day in Dallas-Fort Worth.
George said that unlike recent crises at universities such as Penn State or Syracuse, TCU told the public exactly what was going on and what it was doing.
“It is always better to nip something in the bud before it becomes an issue, before the issue becomes a crisis,” George said.
TCU students hold vigil to help community heal
A student-led prayer vigil reminded the TCU community to stand together on a day when things easily could have fallen apart, the minister to the university said Wednesday.
“The spiritual events that happen on this campus, with all their rich diversity, connect us to each other, remind us what we believe and what is most important to us,” The Rev. Angela Kaufman, minister to the university, said.
Sarah Allen, a sophomore strategic communication major, had the idea to put together a prayer vigil in light of the events involving the TCU students who were arrested in Wednesday’s drug bust.
Allen created a Facebook event and created fliers to pass out to promote the event, she said. She then spoke to Graham McMillan, vice president of the student body, who helped recruit speakers and find microphones for the event.
Allen then contacted Chancellor Victor Boschini, Kaufman, and her own minister to involve the TCU leadership, she said.
McMillan said that the fact that a single student put this event together shows how the community can bond.
With the drug arrests story breaking earlier in the day, the prayer vigil caught the attention of media outlets, which also covered the event.
The media concentrated on what Allen described as the negative aspects of the story, but she said she thought the prayer vigil created a positive environment.
Jordan Mazurek, a junior sociology major, said, “I have faith in my fellow Horned Frogs to do things to reaffirm who they are and who we are. My faith may or may not rely on a deity or religious texts, but it does rely on every individual around me that I draw on for support.”
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