UNK Commits Serious Communication Blunder

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It has been more than two weeks since the death of UNK senior Dan Poly and students are still dealing with the tragedy of losing a fellow Loper.

For UNK officials, Poly’s death should result in a review of the UNK Alert System and how it’s to be used. The communication blunder which occurred in the wake of Poly’s death should serve as prime example of what not to do.

There is a time and place for technology like the UNK Alert System. The system should be utilized in situations where students are in immediate danger, or need to be notified about campus critical campus news. The content of the alerts should be completely accurate and carefully monitored.

With emergency vehicles swarming campus, like they did after the discovery of an unresponsive Poly, students needed to be assured they were in no danger. In this situation the alert system can be a valuable tool in suppressing the fears of concerned students.  However, it is unnecessary to speculate or make assumptions, like those made in the emails sent to students, when a professional has not confirmed those speculations.

The email should have confirmed that: “a student was found unresponsive, but that there is no danger to other students. And that: “the death in currently under investigation and more information will be released when made available.”

In the second email released to students, Poly’s name was released as the deceased student. Again, the email claimed that Poly had died as a result of an “apparent suicide.”

In a story published the following morning by the Kearney Hub, County Attorney Shawn Eatherton concluded that Poly’s death was accidental and communicated that the press release sent out from UNK officials in “incorrect.”

UNK needs to thoroughly review the policies and procedures associated with the alert system. No information that cannot be confirmed by professionals should be released to students. The inaccurate report may have tarnished Poly’s image to those who did not know him personally.

Chancellor Doug Kristensen should directly monitor the content sent out on the alert system, and insure that all information being distributed is accurate. The individuals behind the messages sent out to students should have a firm understanding of how the technology is to be used and have detailed instruction on how it’s to use it.

With official reports refuting messages sent out by UNK, a new message should have been drafted to confirm that Poly’s death was in fact accidental and that UNK apologizes for the inaccurate reports previously distributed.

Nothing can be done to heal the psychological wounds which accompany the loss of our fellow student, but we can make strides to assure that this error in communication never happens again.

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Draft: UNK Alert System

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It has been more than two weeks since the death of UNK senior Dan Poly and students are still dealing with the tragedy of losing a fellow Loper.

For UNK officials, Poly’s death should result in a review of the UNK Alert System and how it’s to be used. The communication blunder which occurred in the wake of Poly’s death should serve as prime example of what not to do.

There is a time and place for technology, such as the UNK Alert System. In a situation where student may be in current danger it’s vital that UNK officials get messages out to students in a quick and precise manor. Communication is key when dealing with sensitive situations such as a death on campus, the content of these messages should be monitored closely.

With emergency vehicles swarming campus, like they did  after the discovery of an unresponsive Poly , students needed to be assured they were in no danger. In this situation the alert system can be a valuable tool in suppressing the fears of concerned students.  However, it is unnecessary to speculate or make assumptions, like those made in the emails sent to students, when a professional has not confirmed those speculations.

The email should have confirmed that: “a student was found unresponsive, but that there was no danger to other students. And that: “the death in currently under investigation and more information will be released when made available.”

In the second email released to students, Poly’s name was released as the deceased student. Again, the email claimed that Poly had died as a result of an “apparent suicide.”

In a story published the following morning by the Kearney Hub, County Attorney Shawn Eatherton concluded that Pol’s death was accidental and communicated that the press release sent out from UNK officials in “incorrect.”

UNK needs to thoroughly review the policies and procedures associated with the alert system. No information that cannot be confirmed by professionals should be released to students. The inaccurate report may have tarnished Poly’s image to those who did not know him personally.

Chancellor Doug Kristensen should directly monitor the content sent out on the alert system. The individuals behind the messages sent out to students should have a firm understanding of how the technology is to be used and have detailed instruction on how it’s to use it.

With official reports refuting messages sent out by UNK, a new message should have been drafted to confirm that Poly’s death was in fact accidental and that UNK apologizes for the inaccurate reports previously distributed.

Nothing can be done to heal the psychological wounds which accompany the loss of our fellow student, but we can make strides to assure that this error in communication never happens again.

A How To: The UNK Alert System

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After the recent student death of UNK senior Dan Poly, questions and flaws pertaining to the UNK Alert System have been revealed.

How should this new technology be used, when should it be used, who should use it, how should these messages reach students?

This and many other questions should be thoroughly a addressed before UNK has another communication blunder like they did in the handling of Poly’s death.

There is a place and time for such technology like the UNK Alert System. Communication between students and UNK officials is vital in the event of a crisis of threatening situation. Students need to be kept well-informed when events, like a students death occurs on campus. The commotion caused by Poly’s death, with all the emergency personnel swarming round campus, was witnessed by many students, surely leaving them with an array of questions and uncertainties.

UNK officials had an obligation to inform students of the death and reassure them that the campus was safe. The initial email sent to students was almost totally necessary. The only flaw with the initial email is that UNK officials stated that the unnamed student had died as a result of an “apparent suicide.” Who ever released and or wrote this email broke one of the most sacred rules of Journalism, Public Relations, and Mass Communication as a whole; have your facts right.

The second email, which was almost certainly released after the Poly family was notified, named Poly as the deceased student and  gave some general information. Again, the email reiterated that Poly had died as a result of an “apparent suicide.”

The following morning the Kearney Hub released a story claiming that, after an initial autopsy, Poly’s death was ruled non-self-inflicted by county attorney Shawn Eatheron. The article went on to say that the death was still under investigation by the Kearney Police Department.

Those who did not previously know Poly may now only know him as the UNK student who “apparently,” committed suicide. Here lies the  completely inexcusable mistake by whoever was behind the emails sent out by the UNK Alert System.

Such a powerful tool like the UNK Alert System should be stand as a very wisely utilized tool. Whoever is in charge of using the alert system should be an experienced and trained individual capable of thinking clearly amidst a crisis.

Just because we have such technology doesn’t mean we need to look for reasons to use it. The alert system should be reserved to only in times of where students need to be promptly notified of immediate danger. In a situation where emergency personnel are called to campus, which could cause students to become frightened, the alert system should be used to notify students that there is no present danger.

What is said in these alerts needs to be closely monitored by Chancellor Christensen himself. These messages need to releases only the essential information and leave details which have not been confirmed by professionals out.

There is no room for error when dealing with such sensitive situations like the death of a student. UNK needs to be proactive in their training and have a definite crisis plan in place to avoid these communications glitches .



Local Story Ideas.

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Comments please.

Rosenblatt Stadium

I have forever been a huge fan of College Baseball and the College World Series. Since i first passed through the gates at Johnny Rosenblatt stadium, I knew Omaha would be a regular during my summer vacation. Rosenblatt Stadium is most commonly known for its tradittion. Its one of those places where you can just feel the tradition sitting besides you. In my opinion it ranks up there next to Rigley Field of Chicago, The forum in Montreal, or Yankee stadium of old. With the relocation of the CWS, Rosenblatt Stadium has become an item up for sale, most likely to be bought bu the near by Henry Doorly Zoo. What to do with it is the question.

Dan Poly

I know this is a very sensitive subject, and I can respect that there is no reason to continue the agony any longer than needed. With that being said, I have a very serious problem with the way Dan Poly’s death was handled by UNK, and the people behind the blunder need to be held responsible. As a student of Public Relations I can say I observed a number problems with the communication between UNK officials and students. Problem which surely have offended the family and friends of Dan Poly and possibly created a unrealalistic image of the young man.

Bringing Down A Legend

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For many years, as long as I have been alive, Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha has been center stage for College Baseball. The glorious reign came to an end as the South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the UCLA Bruins to win the College World Series in the final game at Rosenblatt.

The city of Omaha made the decision to relocate the CWS to a newer and more technologically advanced stadium located in downtown Omaha. In June the thousands of people which would otherwise have flocked to 13th Street Omaha, will invade downtown Omaha leaving Rosenblatt as empty as it sits on a cold December day.

With the relocation, the city of Omaha has begun deliberating what to do with the historic stadium. Since the stadium and the land it sits on are totally owned by the city, the most likely option is to sell the land as a surplus to the nearby Henry Doorly Zoo. The land would sell for about 12 Million Dollars.

The real decision is deciding when to bring down the legend. It’s rumored that demolition could begin as soon as this summer. The city is in the tedious of applying zoning regulations which would make the demolition process as cheap as possible.

Teachers Packin’ Heat

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With the shootings in Tucson and the shootings at Millard still fresh in our minds, one Nebraska lawmaker is jumping to brash conclusions.

Nebraska Senator Mark Christensen, or Imperial, has proposed a completely outrageous bill which would allow certain teachers and administrators to carry concealed weapons on school property.

The proposed legislation would allow educators who met “certain criteria” to carry concealed weapons while working amongst our youth. The goal was to keep guns out of schools, right?

No kind of preparation could train our school teacher to use deadly force in the event of a crisis. Law enforcement officials and military personnel are the only people who have been professionally trained to use deadly force in any situation.

A typical soldier spends about two years in various types of training camps in preparation for deployment. While attending these camps soldiers are formed into hardened fighting machines both physically and psychologically. A person choosing to enroll in the armed forces must be able and willing to take another human life. It’s tough to imagine our school teachers and principals willing to take on that responsibility.  

Educators who have not been properly trained in using deadly force will not make sound decisions in the event of a crisis. The psychological strain of such a high-stress situation, like a school shooting, will undoubtedly alter the decision making process of an untrained shooter. Allowing teachers to have guns in schools could prove to be more harm than good.  

Mr. Christensen, are you willing to take money from a state budget, already trying to conserve money, to enroll our school teachers and principals in a military style boot camp?

The larger issue is that a member of the Nebraska legislator is wasting our time making ludicrous claims instead of actually looking for a plausible solution. First we arm-up teachers, what’s next, Mr. Christensen, call in the Nebraska National Guard?

Schools should look into a more proactive solution such as metal detectors at school entrances. School which feel they are at a particularly high risk for violence should higher a school resource officer.  Schools should put more effort into rehabilitating or helping the troubled youth who might someday commit such acts of violence.

Senator Christensen needs to be looking at how we stop these events from taking place in the first place, not how we deal with it after the fact.

Teach Em’, Take Em’

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The legislation proposed by Senator Mark Christensen would allow certain teachers and administrators to carry concealed weapons, to be used in the case of a school shooting.

The bill would allow only certain teachers who meet a certain criteria to arm-up. But what are those criteria’s and what kind of training must these educators go through?

A story done by an anonyms high school student raises a good point. What training could a school teacher undergo that could potentially prepare them to fire upon one of their student? And what training could possibly prepare our educators to make a sound decision on weather to shoot or not shoot.

There are people who have been trained to make these types of decisions. They’re called soldiers and policemen, not school teachers.

I oppose this bill for many reasons but most recently because I don’t think the psyche of a Nebraska school teacher is one stable enough to fire upon a deranged 15 year old.

We need to be more proactive on keeping guns out of our schools. We need to do a better job of making sure the most troubled kids know the consequences of such actions.

I think the preceding solutions are a much better idea than sending our sweet, c0mpasionate, nurturing, apple-eating school teachers to target practice.

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