Case: Texas A&M University and the Bonfire Tragedy

Discussion and Essays

  1. Cynthia Lawson, in a previous job, was part of a mock crisis. If she were to plan a mock crisis at Texas A&M, how could it work? Who would be the players? What information would it reveal? How could it help the university prevent or cope with future crises?

“Practice makes perfect” is what I would like to begin answering this question. Cynthia Lawson can well plan a mock crisis simulating a crisis situation, may be like a bon fire. It would require the presence of the university relations officer, the teachers that reside at the university (if it is a bonfire crisis simulation as bonfire is done at the night time) the students, other concerned staff at the university, the local fire and safety department representatives and some press representatives. This practice would reveal useful information about the university safety and security regulations, the preparedness of the different stakeholders at the university. This practice will also provide the information about how the university relations department can handle the media. University can find the loopholes in their different crisis management systems and rectify them before something really happens.


  1. What traditions exist at your university? In your town or locality? What is the culture of your university and/or community? Would outsiders find it surprising? Look, not only at activities, but also at clothing styles, foods, hobbies, and the like. Students (like most other people) tend to see their lifestyles as normal and not worthy of discussion, whereas they see other cultures as different, strange, or difficult to understand.

If I talk about the traditions of my college back at my home town, it is a very conservative environment. People find it an honor if there is a function and more than actually invited people are present there. We celebrated Eid festival at our college. Everyone would normally invite many friends and family members. At the end, if the number of the students was 100, there would be 500 people present. Every one wear their tradition clothes. I believe that such a huge gathering and the way people only wear their traditional clothing would be quite surprising to the outsiders.


  1. The work of the Special Commission was reported on Texas A&M University Relations Letterhead. Was this a good idea? Why or why not?

In my opinion this was a bad idea. There should have been an independent commission trusted by all the stakeholders and its report should not have looked like it is from any department of the A&M University. The report being on their letterhead would give an impression of biasness and the readers would find it hard to accept.


  1. At a mock debriefing, discuss what Texas A&M University Relations might do in such situation to avoid or deal with the conflict.

A&M University Relations might want to be open to criticism and try to honestly answer any questions asked. They should remain calm and professional and avoid any speculative talk. Speaking simply is the key to let others understand what you want to say. There should be no fake promises and no commitment that cannot be fulfilled should be made.

  1. What area of the campus life at your college or university could become a crisis? Are there prodromes? What would happen if a crisis were to occur? Which local reporters would be most likely to attack? If your university has a university relations office, ask him or her to speak to the class about crises that have occurred and crisis that were pretended.

In my opinion, there are students who have language problems. I mean they cannot study properly in English. What this could result in a crisis for the student at the end of their semester when they might not be able to pass their semester courses.  What I have observed that these students are good at their courses when talked to in their native language. I have seen these students show mistrust in the university learning system as they believe they have been treated unjustly. In case of many students ending in the same situation, they could show their frustration via protests that could attract the local newspapers to come in and report this kind of protests. Social media could take up this issues and it could go viral.


Aggie Spirit: Current and previous students of Texas A&T university takes care of the different traditions at the university. These traditions are called Aggie Spirit.

Bonfire tradition: This is an annual tradition that is celebrated by students of different university where they lit a huge outdoor fire.

Critical Incidence Response Team: These are government official teams, usually police units who respond to incidents of critical magnitude. They are well trained for such situations.

Mock press conference: This is a simulation of an actual press conference which provides practice to deal with actual press conferences.

Timeline: This is the manner some events are displayed in the form of a list and the time they occurred.

Bloody Sunday: This reminds of the events that happened at the hands of British soldiers against Irish people where several of them were killed.

Community policing: Community policing is where some volunteers from the community take the responsibility to keep an eye on the community and report to police if a crisis situation arises.