November 21, 2007

University may change alert system

Alec and I have already weighed in on the delayed response by the administration in alerting students to Monday's shootings. Now, the University is examining whether their use of cAlert--which notified students of the danger more than 9 hours later--could have been improved.From the Trib:

On Tuesday, university officials said they would review whether they waited too long—nine hours—to alert students to the slaying of Cisse, 29, as he walked to his off-campus home about 1:30 a.m. Monday. In the hour before, two other attacks against university students and a staffer occurred within blocks of the slaying.... "At that time, I don't think anybody was discussing or considering sending an immediate alert to the campus community in the middle of the night," [VP for communications Julie Peterson] said. "In retrospect it's a fair question about whether we wanted to do that."
The article also notes that it was the first test of the cAlert system, which was introduced in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings last year (although the idea had been around longer).I don't mean to be too critical of the Administration, because they have done a good job of making themselves available to the University community the past two days, but I'd really like to know why, if Peterson is to be taken at her word, no one was discussing sending out an immediate alert.While I disagree with the original explanation from VP/Dean of Students Kim Goff-Crews that they wanted to be sure they could provide accurate information before alerting students, I can at least understand their argument. However, the fact that they did not even consider or discuss alerting students of a shooting only a block and a half away from BJ (and realistically, at a time many students are still out and about) seems like a tremendous oversight. Still, at least they're owning up to the mistake now.