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Bates College ratchets up PR after embarrassing post-party arrests June 4, 2010

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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Bates College in Maine was embarrassed at the end of May 2010 when local police broke up a 200+ person party outside of a dorm. The police arrived after an ambulance had a hard time reaching a hurt student, and apparently used pepper spray and night sticks in arresting several “unruly” party goers. Several students were sent to jail and many were hurt, including a police officer who broke his leg in two places. Bates students, though, have called the police response an over-reaction, and have insisted that those partying were very cooperative until police got unreasonably physical.

Whatever happened, Bates President Elaine Tuttle Hansen responded quickly to the crisis with a public statement. Hansen described the incident as highly unusual for the college, and promised:

In keeping with our stated policies and procedures, the College has initiated an immediate internal investigation of the specific facts of this incident.  We will also act upon the facts as they are revealed to mitigate against future incidents of this nature on the Bates campus.  We have great concern for our students’ safety at all times.”

For more on the story, see the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1. What do schools like Bates College risk losing with stories like this one in the media?

2. What audiences must universities keep in mind when releasing a statement responding to these kinds of scandals?

3. Was Tuttle’s initial response a good one? Why, or why not?

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