San Diego State focuses on working past drug scandal

San Diego State University (SDSU) partnered with the DEA and District Attorney's Office to crack down on drug use, which had infiltrated the university. The DEA launched a drug bust on May 6, titled Operation Sudden Fall, and netted 96 people, 75 of which were students.

In the news
San Diego State University (SDSU) partnered with the DEA and District Attorney's Office to crack down on drug use, which had infiltrated the university. The DEA launched a drug bust on May 6, titled Operation Sudden Fall, and netted 96 people, 75 of which were students.

Jack Beresford, associate VP of marketing and communications at the university, began his own preparation a week and a half before the bust by planning a response that included a Web microsite.

An hour after the arrests, the communications team, in conjunction with the district attorney's office, hosted a press conference, posted the microsite detailing the events and providing links to relevant resources, and sent a news release and explanatory e-mail to key constituent groups, such as students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Why does it matter?
Beresford says his department emphasized the university's partnership with law enforcement officials and proactive enforcement of the law. Local firm Public Policy Strategies assisted with the immediate response, and continues to assist with media relations strategy.

Beresford adds that while the media coverage has been fair, many outlets have not discussed the school's strong heritage in their articles about the bust. For this reason, SDSU launched a $21,000 PR campaign, Prouder than Ever, to show the San Diego community's support and underscore the viability of the graduating class' degree.

Five facts:
1. A Tufts University student magazine drew national ire after the AP wrote about its racist, anonymous Christmas carol parody on affirmative action.

2. The University of Iowa recently set up a social networking policy, after underage college football players flashed gang signs, money, and alcohol on Facebook.

3. The 2007 cheating scandal at Duke Business School, where students worked in teams to finish a take-home test, was used by various media outlets to comment on the state of corporate ethics.

4. After a 1988 Sports Illustrated expose on steroid abuse, several University of South Carolina assistant coaches were indicted on federal charges and served jail time.

5. Florida State University distributed a message on how it viewed its football team's academic cheating scandal by sidelining the team during the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

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