Last Wednesday, more than two hours after a student was abducted at gunpoint from Central Michigan University’s campus, students were informed of what had happened via Central Alert.
Despite being presented with a report that was as complete as it could have been at the time, some students were upset about receiving the information hours after the incident, and others claim to not have received the alert at all.
Students who are signed up for the alert system and didn’t receive anything have a right to question the technology, but everybody else, especially those who aren’t registered for the system, have no right to be upset.
The CMU Police Department did everything it could to provide students with an accurate report. The 911 call from the girl didn’t come in until after 10 p.m., and police say they weren’t able to confirm the SAC as the original location of the abduction until after 11 p.m.
This gave police about an hour to gather the details they had and send out via voice message because there was too much vital information that needed to be included to send a text to students.
True, the Central Alert came hours after the incident occurred, but in light of the sequence of events, it is understandable that nothing could be relayed to students until the suspect was located.
Had CMU police chosen to release a vague message, students would have complained that they were uninformed and left in the dark. It’s better to release as much as possible in order to avoid vagueness and unleash terror in students.
Whether students should have to sign up for Central Alerts is another question. Although the service is promoted and highly suggested during freshman orientation, not all students take the suggestion seriously and sign up for the service. Additionally, students must decide to receive alerts via email, telephone, text message, or all three.
Students should automatically receive an email when a Central Alert goes out, in case they aren’t signed up for the program. If the university can email students press releases and articles about CMU’s achievements, it should be able to email all students alerting them of a gunman on campus.
Either way, students need to take some accountability for their own safety. Watch social networks for breaking news on campus, tell your friends when something seems off, help people out when they look like they might be in trouble, and sign up for Central Alerts — all of them.