Earlier this semester, two people were stabbed close to the University of Connecticut’s Hilltop Apartments. Happening on a Saturday night, most students found out from either word-of-mouth or social media, rather than an official “UConn Alert.” Following the incident, however, the UConn administration still did not make any official statements.
UConn, as a whole, must improve its communication and public relations. As previously written in an article by weekly columnist Sam Zelin, there are several examples where UConn has not communicated at all or properly with students and other members of the community.
Although one may argue that an official statement or alert may have caused panic, that would not occur if UConn effectively communicated the information at hand. For example, if, in an official message, the UConn administration had outlined the situation at Hilltop Apartments and emphasized the fact that there was no danger to the greater community, this would have been sufficient to both inform the public and ensure that panic would not ensue. Clear and effective communication is certainly necessary and would be immensely helpful in informing the UConn community.
To work to remedy this, after the incident near the Hilltop Apartments, Residential Life updated their reporting policies and communication strategies. On the surface, this does seem like a great change, given how lacking UConn’s communication strategies have been in the past. However, based on the actual plan ResLife announced, it is largely unclear what exactly is changing and whether or not the changes will truly be effective.
According to a news article from The Daily Campus, Director of Residence Education Amy Crim emphasized that the new communication strategy will be enhanced and that there will be a key person in the central leadership team who will identify “communication needs and strategies during and after a significant event on campus.” Crim also noted that this procedure would also take judgment based on the situation.
Based on the information presented, it is ambiguous as to what is actually changing and how, if these changes had been put in place prior to the incident near Hilltop Apartments, communications would have been different. ResLife, and UConn as a whole, must make these strategies more clear and ensure that the changes they have made will actually be effective in improving communications to UConn students and the surrounding community.
The UConn community would greatly benefit from better communication strategies. UConn administrations should learn from this incident and work to improve their public relations for the future.