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COLUMN: Emergency alerts should not be an option

Thank you, Central Michigan University, for alerting me of an abduction on campus last night.

Oh, wait. That was Facebook.

I get it. If I want to be alerted about the latest happenings on campus, I need to register for Central Alert, which I now am.

But why should I have to register to be alerted about breaking news?

It shouldn’t be an option.

It’s understandable the system can’t keep up with phone numbers, but the university has my university email.

I, among many other students who were not registered for the alert system, received first notice from the university about this at 11: 23 yesterday morning. What good is that doing me? What if I went on campus last night after it happened?

Well, I guess I can say thank you Mark Zuckerberg and my fellow Facebook friends for picking up the university’s slack.

Last spring, I was alerted that there was a meningitis outbreak on campus. I was told who contracted the sickness and what steps to take to avoid being diagnosed myself.  This all happened regardless of being registered through Central Alert.

I would assume that an emergency alert about abduction, sexual assault and attempted murder are on the same line of precedence.

After receiving the email from University Communications notifying me of what happened, I was still surprised that the university did not take action on telling students how to protect themselves.

The email states: “Yeagley acknowledged the student, calling her a hero and saying she showed strength and made smart decisions.”

What were those smart decisions? UComm failed to address how this situation can help be avoided.

After further learning about what happened, I commend the student for being brave enough to take charge.  She did the right thing given the circumstances and her courage is something we should all look up to, man or woman.

CMU was recently ranked the fifth safest campus in Michigan by stateuniversity.com, and we may be safe, but the students who chose to get on the alert list are apparently the safest.

I will be the first to say the Central Alert system is a brilliant idea. We all need to be aware of what is going on, and contacting us is a good call. But student safety shouldn’t just be an option, and we shouldn’t have to log on to a computer to register for it.

9 Comments

  1. Since instructions were not provided in the column, you can sign up for Central Alert (or update existing contact information) at either CentralLink (My Account > My Profile > Central Alert) or http://myaccount.cmich.edu. Initial registration (as well as frequent checks) are necessary to be sure the contact information provided is accurate and up-to-date.

  2. You log in once, and you’re registered. Seems you knew this beforehand, and still chose not to register. Now you’re mad because the university allows you to make your own decision on whether or not to be part of a notification system, and you’re upset about that freedom of choice.

    Facebook and twitter notifications are going to be the quickest ways to learn about this stuff for a while until it isn’t near retirees (no offense) who are in control of information that needs to be distributed on a second’s notice by technology that’s new to them.

    Until then, accept the fact that it is NOT going to be university-run notification systems supervised by 60 year olds that alert you when something goes wrong. If anything, even if it WERE quick, the software used would have 56 bugs in the coding and something would go wrong at the worst time.

    And that’s my rant.

    • Male Rights Advocacy says:

      Miss Entitled Princess desperately wants the university to hold her hand everywhere she goes, because she clearly has no idea how to act in real life.

  3. Here’s the problem I have. I am registered for central alert, and I didn’t get anything from it. All I’ve ever gotten were those monthly test texts.

    • If you’re only signed up to receive text/SMS messages, that would explain why you did not receive the alert. According to a Morning Sun article, “…Students and employees can sign up for emergency notifications, and
      Yeagley said a phone message was sent rather than e-mail or text in
      order to give more information.”

      http://www.themorningsun.com/article/20130118/NEWS01/130119719/0/SEARCH/cmu-student-s-actions-saved-her-life#full_story

      • I figured that was the situation. But at that point, there’s really no purpose for the text message availability. and those who aren’t signed up for the calls don’t get the notifications, which i see as the bigger issue, people were exempt from getting the alert simply because they opted out of getting a phone call, and that doesn’t seem like a wise idea. Unless your over like 600 characters, there’s not too much information. And you can still send an email. It’s not the amount of information that’s the problem, it’s the speed at which it is given, at which point a call is faster, it’s a more efficient way of sharing information, than sending a text or email. There also must be some way to send out the alert in an abbreviated format, with just the bare minimum of necessary information, and if necessary, info on how to get the rest of the information, or a link.
        Point is, if they don’t think a text will allow enough information, why even have it as an option?

        • ” It’s not the amount of information that’s the problem, it’s the speed at which it is given”

          The problem is the people who are in charge of the information. That is the root.

          And how is a call the most efficient? Most of the students are most likely to be in class. The call would be missed and it would just be a voicemail where you’d only hear the second part of the message. (Why? Because every time I’ve gotten these calls from the university, including snow day cancellations) the message is only recorded after the BEEP starts, but the university message begins playing after the voicemail picks up).

          If there is some shooter on campus, I would first have to hold the number 1 to check my voicemail, then listen to the, “You have 9….saved…messages………and 1….new….message… To listen to your messages….press 1. And then I might have 2 messages BEFORE the important one.

          A text could be seen regardless of whether or not the call was missed.

  4. anonymous_tms says:

    “I was still surprised that the university did not take action on telling students how to protect themselves.”
    First, one would hope that anyone over the age of ten or so would have a pretty good idea what steps to take to enhance safety. Second point is that aside from bad weather/tornado type notifications, these messages are, pretty much by definition, “after the fact”. Lots of feel goodism but irrelevant in the greater scheme of things.
    Oh, and third, well, what should the university have suggested? They’re not going to tell everyone to grab their Glocks…

  5. Derpington_The_Third says:

    Irony:

    Whining about being free to choose whether to participate in something or not.

    Then you want to be forced into a system.

    No thanks, I’m fine with not being subscribed to Central Alert.

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