Posted by: Ian Ross | March 12, 2008

Ryerson U Appears Out Of Touch With Students

Toronto’s Ryerson University needs to defuse its current Facebook battle with first-year student Chris Avenir quickly if it wants to retain its tech-savvy and forward-thinking image.

The university is looking stone age in its battle to expel Avenir for setting up a Facebook study group. It was just an extension of the traditional library meet-up to exchange ideas and approaches. No evidence of cheating has been found.

This silly stand-off is getting a lot of attention. And making the university look scared of new technology and out of touch with how today’s students communicate.

It is a classic David vs. Goliath battle and the mainstream (Globe, CityTv, CBC, Toronto Star, etc…) and blogging media (Media Driving, Wise Law, The Drive Of Progress, Shaping Youth, etc..) are eating it up.

There is even a Chris Didn’t Cheat blog with regular updates and a Chris Didn’t Cheat t-shirt available for purchase.

Not exactly a winning PR strategy to attract new students or convince employers that Ryerson graduates will be the innovators of tomorrow. This school needs to keep its hip, urban  image to compete against more traditional schools like the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario.

The university’s website tells potential students that they’ll get “real-world, relevant curriculum” and be able to “hit the ground running when you graduate.”

Words and actions don’t exactly seem to be synchronized at this point. A serious crisis communication needs to be implemented to reverse course and put the school back on message.

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