Engaging collaborative communities: dialogue and campus sexual assault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: While universities continue to grow increasingly sophisticated in their communication functions, issues like sexual assault continue to pose a challenge. One reason is that these issues are emotional, complex, and often only dealt with at the point that they have become a crisis for the institution. The purpose of this paper is to understand the role that dialogue can play in proactively communicating about issues of sexual assault. Design/methodology/approach: This study utilized 32 in-depth interviews with university officials from 21 different universities across the USA with responsibility for communicating about issues of sexual assault, including Title IX officers, victims advocate services, student affairs, and university communications. Findings: Issues managers worked to create opportunities for dialogue on their campus communities by highlighting shared values. Within a dialogic framework, university issues managers were creating spaces for dialogue and developing alternative forms of engagement in an effort to empower students with the necessary skills to engage in dialogue with their peers. There was a recognition that dialogue is most effective when it is peer-to-peer vs coming from an authoritative or administrative position. Issues managers helped students to develop the skills necessary for engaging in dialogue with each other. Originality/value: To advance public relations scholarship, there is a need to consider emotional and gendered issues that are often stigmatized. This can help practitioners to develop better, and proactive, communication strategies for handling issues of sexual assault as to avoid negative media attention and work to change organizational culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-308
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Communication Management
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 6 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Strategy and Management

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