Chapter Advisor Accreditation, page 2

Communicating and Managing Crisis Situations

The truth is, there’s risk in everything. Accidents can happen every day, and that’s just part of life. In the context of fraternity, there are more variables at play when it comes to risk. Knowing this, it’s best to prepare for the worst by always having a contingency plan in place. What happens when a crisis emerges at your chapter? Is there a plan in place? Who responds to the media when they call? Are you even supposed to respond to the media? Who meets with the university?

As chapter advisor, it is critical that you are intimately aware with the crisis management procedure that the chapter you advise has developed as well as the resources at the International Fraternity that can help you navigate a situation. Additionally, it is imperative that, should a crisis arise, you encourage the chapter to follow their outlined procedures and to communicate to all relevant parties as necessary. Below are some recommended tactics to use prior to a crisis occurring and during an actual situation.

Have a Plan

It is difficult to manage a crisis without a set crisis management plan and a crisis management team. The recommended composition of the crisis management team is the chapter president, chapter advisor, house corporation contact (if applicable), health & safety chairman, and public relations chairman. It is often helpful to create a checklist that will delineate and assign responsibilities that would happen in times of crises.

However, while a checklist is great, they can become stale and outdated. In order to work against this, it is imperative for the chapter to have at least a once a semester meeting to walk through a mock crisis or potential scenarios of upcoming or previously planned events, what roles everyone would play, who would contact who, and how the flow of communication from the crisis management team would flow. Below is a sample checklist that is updated annually by the International Fraternity for you and your chapter to implement.

View the Crisis Checklist for Chapters

During a Crisis

In the unfortunate and unlikely event of a crisis, it is important for the chapter to implement their plan and checklist right away. The chapter is strongly encouraged to communicate the situation to the proper authorities but most importantly, GET HELP for the situation if it calls. The North American Inter-Fraternity Conference (NIC) and Pi Kappa Alpha have developed a Good Samaritan policy that will encourage chapters and undergraduate members to do the right thing and get the individual or situation the help from professionals that it properly needs.

After the immediate crisis has waned, it is critical that communication go out to the International Fraternity staff who can help navigate these types of situations. Additionally, it is highly recommended to do the following:

  • Communicate to chapter members that they are NOT to speak to
  • Delete any planned social media posts.
  • If the event is serious enough, cancel all chapter events – even philanthropy – in the wake of a high-profile event.
  • E-mail media@pikes.org all media inquiries. Our trained and professional staff can help craft statements that will help to communicate the chapter’s best interests.

Post-Crisis

After the crisis has subsided it is important to do a review of the situation. Use these questions as a starting point for the review:

  • What events/actions led to the crisis happening?
  • What could have been done to prevent the crisis from happening?
  • Was the crisis plan adequately built out to handle a situation like the one that occurred?
  • Was the plan followed?
  • What could have been done better in the next event?
If you need help or have general questions, please email volunteer@pikes.org.