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Crisis Management Guidelines

Crisis Management Guidelines
Fraternity and Sorority Affairs
University of Kentucky


Crisis Management Guidelines are provided to you in an effort to provide a logical framework in the event of a crisis involving your chapter. Though our hope is that preventative measures such as fire safety, alcohol regulation and hazing abolition will help chapters avoid many potential crises, it is unrealistic to believe that no UK fraternity or sorority will ever need these guidelines. Tragedies do occur and cannot be predicted. Taking the time to prepare for—and ultimately prevent—the tragedies that can be avoided could save not only the life of a member, but also the life of your chapter.

These guidelines should be used if a tragedy or crisis involving your chapter occurs either on or off chapter property. Examples of such situations include, but are not limited to:

  • death or injury of a member or guest;
  • fire in the chapter house;
  • an injury or accident involving alcohol at social events;
  • an injury or accident involving a member and/or a non-member at or during a chapter event or on chapter property.

Some chapters may already have similar crisis management guidelines that have been developed by their international organizations. This document supplements those procedures by providing names and telephone numbers of University officials who can be of assistance.

Member Education

  • The entire Executive Board of your chapter should review these crisis management procedures and be familiar with important concepts of handling a crisis. Every chapter officer should have a copy of these procedures.
  • Be certain that all members in the chapter (including new members) know that the chapter president is in charge of every emergency situation. Though the president may choose to consult with other members who have some expertise or insight, final authority should rest with the president.
  • In the event the president is absent, the next ranking officer should assume control. If such rankings are not already in place, chapters should define officer rankings and include them in the chapter bylaws.
  • All members must know who is in charge and be prepared to follow instructions. Include a review of the chapter's crisis management guidelines in a risk management education program each semester. The house director should also be aware of the procedures.

General Procedures

  • In nearly all situations, the president's first call will be to the 911 emergency number. Briefly and calmly explain the situation so that the appropriate emergency personnel can respond.
  • Close the chapter house immediately. Permit only your members and appropriate officials to enter. Any guests in the house should be asked to leave. Assign one or more responsible members to calmly control access to the chapter house.
  • Contact University officials. During business hours (8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday - Friday) contact the Greek Affairs Office at 257-3151. Tell the person answering the phone that this is an emergency call and ask for Emily Britt, Vinny Sandy, or Susan West.
  • If the University's administrative offices are not open, contact the Campus Police at 257-1616. Inform the dispatcher of the nature and location of the emergency and tell him or her that you have already contacted 911 emergency personnel. Campus Police will then contact the necessary University Fraternity and Sorority Affairs personnel.
  • Contact your chapter's alumni advisor and inform him/her of the situation. Ask him/her to come to the chapter house immediately in order to consult with chapter officers and University officials. When that is completed, contact your International Headquarters.
  • Assemble your members, including new members, in a group. Explain that there has been an emergency and that the house is closed to all but members and appropriate University/emergency personnel. Instruct the members not to speak to anyone outside the chapter about the incident except police and University officials. Do not discuss details, speculate on events, or otherwise elaborate on the situation until police, University officials and the chapter advisor arrive. Emphasize the need to remain calm and assure chapter members that everything is under control. If there is a need to inform members who are not present, the president may delegate this responsibility to another member. Have him/her use his/her cell phone in order to keep the house phone and chapter presidents’ phone free.

Serious Injury or Death of a Member

  • Do not notify the parents. In the event of a serious injury or death, medical or police personnel will notify the family. Current parent/guardian contact information should always be on file in the Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Office and with the chapter. After you know the entire family has been contacted, it is appropriate then and only then for a chapter representative to call and share the chapter's concern.
  • If the member lives in the chapter house, do not remove any personal items from the room. Do not allow other chapter members to enter the room. Temporarily move any roommate(s) to another room in the house. Keep the door locked and allow only authorized personnel to enter the room.
  • After you are sure that the family has been notified, seek the advice of the family regarding the member's belongings. You may offer to pack them in boxes, but it is more likely the family will want to do this themselves. Before they arrive, make sure that any borrowed items have been returned. When they arrive, have empty boxes available and offer to help. Keep in mind, however, that this is a very difficult time for the member's family and they may want some privacy.
  • In the case of a death, members' attendance at a funeral or memorial service should be coordinated with the funeral director and the family. Discuss with the family or the family's clergyman the possibility of conducting a separate memorial service for the deceased member at a later time.
  • In the case of a serious injury or illness, contact the member's family regarding their desires for visitation by chapter members. Always respect the wishes and desires of the family even if the ill member insists on more frequent visits.

Managing the Media

  • If the news media contacts the chapter, only the designated spokesperson (the chapter president or chapter advisor) should speak for the chapter. With the assistance of chapter legal counsel, the chapter advisor and university officials, the chapter should carefully prepare a formal statement to be issued to the media. Prior to the development of such a statement, the following standby statement may be useful:

"We can confirm that (describe incident briefly) occurred on (day) at (time) at (location). We will do all we can to provide information as it becomes available. Currently, we are working with the authorities. Further information will be given when we have completed our investigation of all pertinent matters."

Absolutely nothing else should be said. Respond to any additional questions with: "When we have completed our investigation, we will release more information."

  • Keep the chapter house locked in order to keep out unwanted visitors.
  • Consider holding any press briefings away from the chapter house. Involve your alumni advisors, University officials, and Headquarters staff in such decisions.
  • Do not release any names to the media until a University official has advised that the timing is appropriate.
  • Update the media consistently, but only when there is something to say. Establish a distribution list for one-page updates or releases to the media.

How to Cope

Remember that University officials are always available for counseling and other assistance. Do not hesitate to call the University Counseling Center at 257-8701 for assistance. Individual and group counseling is strongly recommended following any crisis situation. No matter how well things appear to be going, counseling and other support services are both wise and appropriate.