NOTE: This page is not intended to be complete by any means. In order to create the most effective plan possible, chapters and provisional chapters should incorporate content that is specific to their needs, campus protocols, event plans, and prior experiences. Once created, the chapter Crisis Management Plan should be reviewed by officers and event monitors before all chapter-sanctioned events and presented to full membership at the preceding chapter meeting.
Crisis Response Overview
The truth is, there is risk in everything. Accidents can happen to anyone, in any place, at any time. In the context of fraternity, it comes as no surprise that there are a number of variables at play when it comes to managing risk. Whether it be at the chapter facility, during a social event, or simply any scenario in which chapter members are directly involved, it is best to prepare for the worst by always having a contingency plan in place.
A crisis is best defined as any unforeseen event involving a high potential for risk and requiring immediate, strategic decision-making. Crisis response encompasses the pre-planning work, intervention protocols, and post-event actions employed to address a given crisis. The initial steps taken during and following an incident can be crucial to securing the assistance of affected persons, reduction of additional harm, and preservation of reputation.
Who’s Involved in Crisis Response?
The short answer: everyone.
Chapters often encounter situations or face circumstances that are best handled with swift and strategic action. When this occurs, it is the duty of chapter leadership—more specifically the chapter president and health & safety officer—to take lead. But although certain officers have more prominent roles to play during a crisis, every single member holds the shared responsibility to review and understand the chapter’s crisis management procedures.
There will likely be instances when the president or health & safety officer is not present or unable to perform his duties. Moreover, no chapter officer should ever remain in an unsafe environment or put himself in danger to provide directives to others. As a result, all brothers should feel empowered to critically assess a situation, adapt accordingly, and take proper action when necessary.
Breaking Down Crisis Response
When considering chapter operations, crisis response is ultimately divided into two key areas: crisis management and crisis communication. Crisis management is the process in which the chapter, alumni advisory board, house corporation, and Fraternity take immediate action in response to an incident such as injury, death, fire, assault, property damage, vandalism, etc. Crisis communication is the process in which these same stakeholders collect, process, and disseminate information in response to public reaction surrounding an incident.
In short: crisis management deals with the reality of a crisis, while crisis communication deals with the perception of that reality. Both elements are necessary to effectively maneuver a crisis situation, and all members of Pi Kappa Alpha should possess at least a basic understanding of their chapter’s protocols surrounding them.
As previously stated, crisis management is the organization’s application of specific strategies intended to handle a significant negative event. As a component of crisis response, crisis management generally centers around the health, safety, and wellbeing of members and guests during and after an incident. Within the undergraduate chapter, the president and health & safety officer are tasked with leading crisis management efforts.
Crisis communication refers to the systems, technologies, and protocols that enable a chapter to collect and convey information during a crisis. Within the undergraduate chapter, the president and public relations chairman are tasked with leading crisis communication efforts.
When considering crisis communication, it is important to remember that you are never alone when navigating an incident—your advisors, alumni volunteers, and Fraternity staff are all available to offer support. More specifically, the marketing & communications team at Memorial Headquarters is committed to helping chapter officers gather details, manage the media, and construct an appropriate response.
Creating a Personalized Crisis Management Plan
Per the Standards, each chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha is expected to maintain its own prescribed Crisis Management Plan within the written Health & Safety Program. But in order to develop a plan that possesses any real value, it is crucial to include contacts, event details, facility information, prior experiences, and action items that are unique to your chapter. Which campus officials do you contact if a guest is injured at an event? Where do brothers meet up if a fire breaks out at the chapter facility? While it is impossible to predict the facts or outcomes of every situation, a personalized plan provides the framework to identify the who’s, what’s, and where’s of any given incident.
From Words to Action
The greatest crisis management plan in the world is ultimately useless if no one knows it exists. Once officers have finalized a chapter-specific plan, each member should be routinely educated on its contents and understand his role to play in a potential crisis. It is equally important that all new members receive crisis response education during the new member orientation program. To accomplish this, the health & safety officer should collaborate with the new member educator to create and schedule a presentation at some point during the four-week process.
Whereas most health and safety education highlights prevention strategies to help avoid possible risks, crisis response education focuses on outlining distinct action plans for proper response in the unfortunate event of a crisis. This curriculum should be presented to all chapter members at the start of each term AND any time the Crisis Management Plan is updated to ensure that expectations are clearly defined. In addition to content provided throughout the True PIKE Experience, supplemental resources and session facilitator guides developed by Pi Kappa Alpha’s insurance carrier, James R. Favor & Co., can be found here.
Pi Kappa Alpha Crisis Response Manual
To assist chapters in the development and maintenance of a personalized Crisis Management Plan, the PIKE Health & Safety team has created a Crisis Response Manual accessible to all members, new members, and alumni. This resource includes in-depth explanations of Fraternity expectations associated with crisis response, potential scenarios to consider adding to your chapter’s written plan, and a sample Crisis Management Plan outlining recommended procedures for navigating a variety of possible situations. The updated Crisis Response Manual is located in the myPIKE Resource Center under “Health & Safety.”