Monday, March 23, 2015

Student Deaths at UGA

This tweet caught my eye today.
It caught my eye for a number of reasons.
  1. Instead of "less than other schools" make it "fewer than other schools." I know, persnickety.
  2. Best I can tell from the audio (listen here), UGA spokesman Tom Jackson doesn't discuss how UGA compares to "other schools." He talks about previous years at UGA. The story has it right.
  3. And finally, 14-15 deaths a year? I can't find any data to support that, though he may very well be right. He sees stuff I don't see. But, for example, this R&B story from a couple of years ago mentions five students that died that academic year. Perhaps there were more that the R&B simply missed. A reasonable assumption.
So, when you hear a PR guy say, sad as the recent deaths are, "we're doing better than the average," you really want to challenge him on that number. Ask him to justify it, to break it down by year. Don't merely be his mouthpiece.

Again, he may be right. Students die for lots of reasons -- health and accidents being the main culprits, and of course drinking plays a role. There are data for murders (none on campus in the last few years), but I'm still trying to find a good data source for student deaths. Here's a HuffPo story that says at least 57 college student deaths across the nation in Fall Semester (none listed from UGA).

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