Monday, March 9, 2009

Notification System

Early Saturday morning the University emergency notification system contacted students, informing them, “This is an actual emergency. This is not a test.”

The University sent out PTENS notifications in the form of e-mail messages, text messages and automated phone messages, though students must voluntarily supply their cell phone numbers through SCORE to receive alerts on their cell phones. As of October 2007, more than 90 percent of the Class of 2011 had submitted cell phone numbers through SCORE, while only 25 percent of upperclassmen had registered. Over the weekend, Cliatt was unable to provide the number of students who had registered their phone numbers at the time of the alerts.

The University had previously sent alerts to students via PTENS six times. The service was used for alerts of an unpleasant odor in Frick Lab, e-mailed bomb threats to the engineering school and Lawrence Apartments, and power outages. The system is distinct from Campus Safety Alerts for non-emergency e-mail notifications.

The University purchased and began implementing the system in April 2007, about a week before Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 students and himself on the Blacksburg, Va., campus. Virginia Tech first notified students of the situation more than two hours after the first shooting, when Cho killed two students in a dorm.

-Josh Oppenheimer '11