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Crime, Safety & Security

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Virginia Tech Goes #Unfinished
CURRENTS Article Attendees of the #VTUnfinished workshop and five discussion sessions said the program provided new insights and strategies for tackling diversity issues, introduced them to community members they could learn from, and encouraged them to think critically and speak comfortably about inclusion. Social media conversations on the #VTUnfinished hashtag also played an important role in furthering campus dialogue.

Refuge for Refugees
CURRENTS Article In January 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order that immediately banned travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries-Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen-from entering the U.S. for 90 days and prevented all refugees from entering for 120 days. The executive order, wrote President Dennis Hanno of Wheaton College in Massachusetts, "implies that international students are neither needed nor wanted. This is false, and we must counter that divisive message." Hanno announced the creation of a full scholarship for a refugee applicant from a war-torn country, with preference given to applicants from one of the seven countries affected by the original executive order.

When ‘Like’ Meets Loss
CURRENTS Article An institution's crisis communication plan should include social media. It's important to discuss how these platforms may be used before a situation occurs. Twitter, Facebook, and other channels should not, for instance, be the primary source of information, but they are useful for providing updates and spreading news, such as communicating whether the campus is safe and directing people to a university website to learn more about unfolding events. Brief messages like these assure people that more information is coming. They can also reassure friends and family members who do not receive the campus's emergency notifications.

Outlook: The Greek Mythology of Inclusiveness
CURRENTS Article Tales of bad Greeks proliferate: In early 2015, a video surfaced of University of Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon members spiritedly chanting about lynching African Americans rather than allowing them to join the fraternity. In fall 2015, the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Alpha Phi sorority chapters at the University of California, Los Angeles, held a "Kanye Western" party—and some attendees reportedly wore blackface. By late 2015, SAE was back in the news, its Yale University chapter accused of admitting "white girls only" to a party. Yet beliefs persist that society is post-racial or that higher education lives up to its stated principles of inclusivity. Many assume that these individual Greek chapters or members are little more than proverbial bad apples. But this view overlooks an otherwise ugly apple orchard. It also absolves colleges and universities of their duty to ensure equality on campus. Ultimately, though, institutions must ensure equality, and students must demand that justice.

Don’t Wait to Communicate about Sexual Assault
CURRENTS Article Students and their families have grown increasingly worried about campus sexual assault. According to the National Institute for Justice, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college; more than 90 percent of campus sexual assault survivors do not report it. In this tense and complex environment, what's a higher education communicator to do? For answers, CURRENTS interviewed campus communicators, media relations consultants, Title IX coordinators, student affairs leaders, and sexual assault experts.

Key Communication Strategies for Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness
Article,  BriefCASE Article Establishing open and transparent communications between students and institutional leaders is vital when dealing with sexual assault on campus, Title IX procedures and other sensitive issues, says one leading communications and marketing expert.

Outlook: Creating Culturally Competent Campuses
CURRENTS Article The rise of racial incidents on campus is unsurprising; colleges are a microcosm of the larger polarized society. It's our job as educators to teach students to be culturally competent, but the effort must be ongoing. Institutions must be proactive to head off incidents through what we do best—education.

Talking Points: Sensitivity Training
CURRENTS Article University communicators must know how to discuss campus sexual assault in a way that supports prevention efforts on campuses, respects students, and adheres to civil rights law.

Talking Points: Preventing Sexual Assault
CURRENTS Article Colleges and universities place a high priority on addressing sexual violence, but developing effective prevention and response mechanisms is a challenge. This article addresses how higher education institutions and the federal government can partner to form effective measures to create safer campuses.

Talking Points: Caulking the Cracks in Campus Safety
CURRENTS Article The National Center for Campus Public Safety will open this spring at the University of Vermont and serve as a clearinghouse for safety-related research and resources supplied by many campuses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Campuses will be able to consult the center for practices to combat alcohol and substance abuse, sexual assault, and other violent crimes. The NCCPS also will house information about identifying mental health problems and effective intervention procedures.

Golden Gallery
CURRENTS Article CURRENTS highlights selected winners of CASE’s annual Circle of Excellence awards. This year’s format is more visual and answers questions such as “What problem did these products or activities solve?” Award winners include Mississippi State University Foundation’s annual report; Valencia College’s alumni magazine, Vitae; and Columbia University’s Columbia Day.

Outlook: The Assault on Campus Weapons Bans
CURRENTS Article College leaders may be reticent to wade into the highly political and emotional issue of gun control. But institutional advocacy is crucial to defeating legislation that would undermine campus gun prohibitions.

Looking Back at the Boston Bombings
CURRENTS Article Six months after the Boston Marathon bombings and the five-day manhunt that followed, five officials from area universities reflect on how they and their institutions dealt with the events that unfolded that week.

An Arresting Event
CURRENTS Article The University of Richmond's police department sponsors an annual fundraiser on campus that benefits the Virginia Special Olympics.

Talking Points: Safe and Sound?
CURRENTS Article In spring 2011, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a letter to schools delineating institutions' responsibilities in preventing and addressing sexual harassment. But as institutions set out to revise their policies in the wake of the new guidance, they are finding that the new requirements raise as many challenges as they seek to resolve.

Partners in Crisis
CURRENTS Article A consortium of Chicago area higher education institutions developed and signed a mutual aid agreement that is intended to provide support—such as access to facilities, equipment, and personnel including police, human resources, and communications staff—to member campuses in the initial hours of a crisis situation. The agreement has garnered approval from risk management experts, who tout the benefit of such cooperative emergency planning efforts.

UK Vice-Chancellors to Address Extremism, Academic Freedom
Article,  BriefCASE Article Universities UK has announced plans to establish a working group that will look at how universities can best protect academic freedom while at the same time safeguarding students, staff and the overall community from potential violent extremism.

Ethics Case Study: Hide and They'll Seek
CURRENTS Article A sexual assault takes place in a dorm in which both the victim and the suspect live. After checking with the student affairs office, it's discovered that the suspect was not actually enrolled at the time and should not have been living in campus housing. The student affairs office asks that this information not be shared with reporters. Of course a reporter does call and asks for the suspect's hometown, which is provided, but nothing else. Is it ethical to respond to only those questions the reporter has asked? Is it ethical to withhold information about the error? CASE members respond.

Talking Points: Spotlight on Safety
CURRENTS Article The Clery Act and other legislation, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Title IX, draw attention to the extent of crime on campus. This column explains the laws and what campuses must do to comply with them.

AdvanceWork: Spotlight on...
CURRENTS Article The general counsel of Catholic University of America maintains a Web site with information on the myriad federal laws that affect higher education.

AdvanceWork: Who's Minding the Children?
CURRENTS Article A community relations program at the University of Southern California trains neighborhood volunteers to keep an eye on children on their way to and from school.

AdvanceWork: Campus Crime Goes Online—Again
CURRENTS Article The U.S. Department of Education publishes campus crime statistics online, which is likely to raise as many constituent questions about data accuracy as about on-campus crime.

Handle with Care
CURRENTS Article Public relations officers often must take the lead in handling campus crises -- a job requiring many levels of negotiation, compromise, communication, and implementation. The article describes how five campuses are successfully managing these potentially explosive situations and keeping their institutional reputations intact. Examples include campus protests (Georgetown University), student demonstrations (Henry Ford Community College), alcohol abuse (Michigan State University), racial tension (University of Hartford), and sexual misconduct (University of Toronto). A sidebar provides seven crisis-planning tips.

Talking Points: In Good Hands?
CURRENTS Article Institutions receiving federal financial aid funds must report crime statistics annually, but guidelines for these reports are unclear, leading to misinterpretations and misleading comparisons by the press and the public. When discussing campus crime statistics with constituents, show how seemingly high numbers may reflect the nature of a residential campus, aggressive law enforcement, and student awareness and comfort with reporting crimes. The U.S. Department of Education is developing regulations to help institutions comply more uniformly with reporting requirements.

Are You Covered?
CURRENTS Article Campus event planners need to know all they can about the risky business of special event insurance

What Are We Doing Wrong?
CURRENTS Article In an interview with CURRENTS staff, Chronicle of Higher Education managing editor Scott Jaschik describes how those who cover the education beat approach sensitive issues like campus crime, or tuition costs, why journalists may feel thwarted by campus administrators in trying to cover these stories, and how providing more information may be beneficial to educational institutions in presenting an accurate picture of these often difficult situations. Specific examples of the types of information the media may want on various issues are presented.

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