University of Oregon leadership missed the mark in its statement about a student's death during a lake trip. Although the university offered sympathy in the original notice, the statement included language that seemed to blame the student:
It is important to point out that this tragedy is connected to an unauthorized tradition among many college students. Students from many institutions have a history of demonstrating poor life choices during visits to Lake Shasta. These activities are contrary to the values of the University and Fraternity and Sorority Organization.
When criticized for the tone and insensitivity, leaders published a new statement, which excludes this paragraph, and posted their regret on Twitter.
University officials may have wanted to use the student's death as a lesson or a warning to others. On the face of it, this strategy wasn't all bad. After all, Shasta Lake is a known partying site and has been in the news for tents and other debris left by college students. One Twitter user commented, "I think the first statement was more appropriate. Although this young man's death is tragic, bad choices have bad consequences."
- What's your view? Was it wrong for the university to include that statement? Why or why not?
- If not in this statement, what should the university leaders have done differently if they did want to focus on future safety?