Internal/External Communication Procedures for Critical Incidents

Reviewed By: Administrative Council on February 04, 1991
Approved By: Administrative Council on January 11, 1999
Reviewed By: President Karnig on March 03, 1999
Approved By:

Source / Authority

For interpretation of this policy, please contact the responsible department: Director, Public Affairs, 909/537-5007

Background

The natural dynamism of a university environment, compounded by the rapid growth that characterizes Cal State, San Bernardino, enhances the likelihood that the campus will be confronted with crisis management issues as the university evolves into an increasingly complex organization of higher learning. The changeable nature of this growing institution also contributes to the need for a clear procedure for internal communication when a crisis erupts.

For the purposes of this statement, a crisis is defined as an event or series of events that could affect the health or well being of individuals associated with the university -- or the university itself -- beyond the everyday problems of living and working. A crisis may take such forms as physical disaster, financial mismanagement, ethical misconduct, etc. The degree to which the operation of the university is affected will vary by the circumstances and management of the incident. Therefore, this statement applies broad definitions and hierarchical rankings, from the most severe to the bothersome, to critical incidents that may beset the university.

This outline of communication procedures establishes a framework for each of the four administrative units to use in establishing reporting structures for critical incidents.

Policy

Defining Critical Incidents and Communication Procedures:

Level 1: Acute

Events that disrupt the normal business routine of the university and/or evoke the operation of Emergency Operations Center.  These may include, but not be limited to, criminal activity, workplace violence and utilities outages, for example.

Internal Communication Procedure:

Campus Police reports the incident to the vice president for administration and finance, who reports it to the President.  The vice president for administration and finance makes a determination about when to inform the vice president whose operational unit is most immediately affected, and the Public Affairs Office when the situation is stabilized.  Notification is a top priority and shall be done at the first available opportunity.  Public Affairs will disseminate information campuswide.

Internal/External Information Delivery Methods:

The following delivery methods will be employed as deemed necessary and when they are available:

  • Public information release to the commercial news media.
    • Radio stations will receive priority for expedient movement of information
  • FLASH message on campus e-mail to all employees
    • Faculty will be asked to pass information on to students in classes
  • E-mail to students with accounts (approximately 6,000 currently)
  • Voicemail to all employees
    • Faculty will be asked to pass information on to students in classes
  • Employee/student information will include where to turn for more information:
    • Radio station dial positions, hotline numbers, when updates will be provided
  • Quick-print fliers posted around campus and left on information desks
  • Student Affairs officers will be asked to collaborate on disseminating information
  • Special informational forums on campus
  • Special edition of The Coyote Chronicle and/or The Friday Bulletin published
  • Messages on the electronic marquee (if working reliably)
  • Webpage posting (and/or creation of "intranet" billboard)
  • Activation of floor wardens to alert building occupants
  • Building alarms/bullhorns -- in evacuation situations
  • Officers posted at entrances/exits; areas fenced or taped with signage
  • Off-campus meetings with concerned citizens
  • Letters to important/concerned citizens
  • Media appearances (as warranted)
  • Paid advertisements in the media (as warranted)

Level 2: Chronic

Incidents that have the potential to become controversial, such as personnel dismissals, sexual harassment complaints, racial discrimination charges, handicapped access complaints; occurrences that have public image implications; situations that generate a limited individual impact on employees, students and normal business operations but require a clear and coordinated approach to management of the incident.

Internal Communication Procedure:

Unit administrator accountable for the affected operation reports incident to division vice president as soon as the situation becomes known.  Vice president or designee reports the incident to the President and Public Affairs, ideally within two hours of the receipt of the information.  The vice president also informs Campus Police, if necessary.  Public Affairs notifies other vice presidents.

Internal/External Information Delivery Methods:
  • Public information release to the news media (as warranted)
  • Information release to employees and students (as warranted).
    •  May be delivered via e-mail or published in The Chronicle and Friday Bulletin; memorandum from the president or a vice president
  • Special informational forums on campus
  • Off-campus meetings with concerned groups
  • Letters to important/concerned citizens
  • Paid advertisement in the media (as warranted)

Level 3: Latent

Single-issue incidents that involve sole individuals who may precipitate public inquiry by their bizarre behavior, illegal activity (e.g., possession of drugs, alcohol), etc.  In the judgment of Campus Police, routine annoyance and nuisance cases.

Internal Communication Procedure:

Unit administrator accountable for the affected operation reports incident to division vice president at the unit manager's discretion.  Vice president or designee reports incident to Public Affairs within the business day.  The vice president also informs Campus Police, if necessary.  Public Affairs notifies other vice presidents.

Internal/External Information Delivery Methods:
  • Public information release to the news media (as warranted)
  • Information release to employees and students (as warranted).
    •  May be delivered via e-mail or published in The Chronicle and Friday Bulletin; memorandum from the president or a vice president

Level 4 - Follow-Up Communication

The campus community and general public may benefit from additional post-event information that provides an update on how a situation was resolved, precautions that may be taken in the future, etc.

Internal Communication Procedure:

Public Affairs may take the lead on generating updated information with the aid of Public Safety and counsel of the vice presidents and president.  Questions generated by the public and university affiliates also may prompt additional bulletins.

Internal/External Information Delivery Methods:
  • FLASH e-mail to all employees
  • E-mail to all student account holders
  • Memorandum from the President
  • Educational/informational forums
  • Articles/reports in the employee newsletter, student newspaper
  • Press release, as warranted