Tonight, I received the following statement from Martin A. Mbugua, director of media relations at Princeton University, regarding reports late today that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was considering the use of emergency doses of a meningitis vaccine (not approved for use in the U.S.) to halt an outbreak of the potentially deadly infection that has sickened seven students since March of this year.
“This is a question we have been considering very carefully. We will be discussing it with our trustees this weekend, and when we have something to announce we will make an announcement.”
The statement was emailed after I asked if the new college president, Christopher L. Eisgruber, had issued any statement about the development. He hadn’t and I was asked to attribute the above statement to the college spokesperson.
Sure, it’s a good idea to discuss critical health issues with the Board of Trustees.
But President Eisgruber needs to show more immediate leadership on this issue, especially to calm campus fears and thousands of parents about the outbreak – even if he has already done that days, weeks and months earlier.
In today’s crisis world, it’s not enough to lean on your past statements. Information moves too quickly and changes too often (today was great example with CDC action) to rely on past statements.
I applaud the college director of media relations for his quick response to my request. But clearly his hands are being tied by a Board of Trustees (and maybe some legal counsel) that doesn’t allow for a statement attributed to the college president that shows the Ivy League school is treating this with the utmost urgency.