Some Colleges Have, Others Consider Rapid Alert System After Tragedy - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

04/18/07-Tyler

Some Colleges Have, Others Consider Rapid Alert System After Tragedy

At Virginia Tech, administration is being criticized for not getting word out after the first shootings Monday morning.

But in an emergency, how do you notify thousands of students on a sprawling campus their lives may be in danger?  We went to UT Tyler where nearly everyone has a cell phone, and the school says that may be the best way to warn.  

"I think we're pretty tuned in.  I think someone would answer one even in the middle of class," says UT Tyler junior Kenny Lang.

Text messages come in in a moment, and in just a glance.

"Universities have grappled for years about the best ways to notify students. I'm not sure text messages are the best way, but it seems to be the best way at this point in time," says UT Tyler Vice President for Student Affairs Howard Patterson.

At UT Tyler, they already have a system that can put an emergency message on students' phones.  Tyler Junior College and LeTourneau universities also are considering implementing a way to text message students in an emergency.

And, another plus for texting? in a disaster when voice lines are overloaded, the tiny bits of data that make up text messages usually get through.

"We would be able to send out what we feel would be a timely message to our students."  says Patterson.

From the home page of Patriot Athletics, those who sign up for texts about athletics can choose to get text messages about any campus emergency.

"It'd short and to the point, I think people would get it, understand it and act accordingly," says Lang.

"I know people are worried about getting spam text messages that stink, but I think if it's serious enough, people would pay attention to it," says freshman Aimee Poirier. 

At VirginiaTtech, emails went out several hours after the first shootings, when most students have gone to class.  But almost every college student has a phone.

Morgan Palmer, Reporting morganpalmer@kltv.com

 

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