The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

College to unveil text alert

By Tressa Versteeg

Macalester students, staff and faculty will soon be able to subscribe to an online system that will send alerts of campus emergencies via text messages to their cell phones.The new text message emergency notification system will supplement, not replace, other means of communication such as e-mail messages and posted signs, Dean of Students Jim Hoppe said.

Text messages sent through the new system will be brief, explaining only the bare essentials, and refer to a longer description on a security web page, said Terry Gorman, assistant director of facilities management and director of security.

Community members can sign up starting Jan. 1 through a link on the college’s 1600grand web portal. The college will also send information about signing up in an email.

Parents, relatives and friends will not be able to sign up for the alert system, Hoppe and Gorman said. Sending the notifications to those outside the community could spur calls from parents and others that could distract staff members while they need to concentrate on campus emergencies, they said.

“We really don’t need a parent calling from New Jersey asking, ‘what’s going on?'” Gorman said.

The text messages will have “very restricted use,” Hoppe said. “[But], we try to err on the side of putting out too much information.”

The notification system will be used only in emergency situations, not to announce other news or events on campus.

According to Gorman, colleges in the surrounding area, including Augsburg, Gustavus, St. Olaf, Carleton, St. Catherine’s and Hamline will use the same software as Macalester for notification systems. St. Thomas, the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis College of Art and Design have other systems in place, Gorman said.

The development of the text message notification system follows the killing of 32 people at Virginia Tech last April and a number of violent incidents on nearby college campuses around the country this fall. Virginia Tech faced criticism for not notifying community members of the situation soon enough.

“I think it’s a good idea to ensure our security on campus,” Ainsley Judge ’11 said of the proposed system.

The University of Minnesota is paying $10,000 a year for its new emergency notification system, which the university introduced in November.


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