Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist blogger who speaks out against video games by claiming they are misogynistic and degrading to women, was scheduled to speak at Utah Stake University (USU) on October 15, 2014. However, Sarkeesian cancelled her speaking engagement due to avoid a life threat made against her. USU informed Sarkeesian of the threat, which implied it would be the worst school shooting in American history.

After assessing the situation from a public relations standpoint, I feel that USU did not give Sarkeesian another choice but to cancel her speaking engagement. Whether the threat was credible or not, USU told Sarkeesian that Utah State Law does not prohibit firearms on their campus if a visitor has a concealed weapons permit. I believe USU backed Sarkeesian into a corner when they gave her this information. USU could have had a police presence on campus or given her a private detail, but they choose not too. When a person is being threatened in a way that could harm their life or possibly hundreds of others what choice does one have? From my analysis I believe there is possibility USU reserved the speaking engagement with Sarkeesian and did not realize what kind of blogger she was or the kind of media attention she would garner. When the threat came across their desk they used it as a scapegoat. I think they knew that Sarkeesain would cancel based on the information they gave to her. USU implied that their hands were tied and there was nothing they could do.

If I was acting as a PR professional at USU and had to handle this issue, based on the policy, I would have handled the situation much differently. Knowing what the law, I would have insisted on a protective detail as well as a police presence. If Sarkeesian still did not feel comfortable after being offered these services to her, she could have canceled and it really would have been her choice. In my opinion USU hid behind the law and choose to do nothing. The situation reminds me of a quote from Gandhi “You may never know what results come of your action, if you do nothing there will be no result.”

By Melissa Reese
By Melissa Reese

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