Written by Tresia Bowles, Staff Writer
Whether there is a robber or a monkey on the loose, many VSU students, faculty and staff depend on the VSU Campus Alert System to alert them of any criminal activity happening on or near campus. However, many students have expressed concern over how helpful the campus alerts have actually been.
The campus alert system consists of both text and email alerts. Students may opt to receive text messages from RAVE Mobile Safety—the company that VSU uses to send campus alerts—and receive email alerts about campus safety and crime as well.
The main priority of the alert system and VSU police is to protect students and provide them with information on crimes and safety in a timely manner, but many are worried about the accuracy and timeliness of these alerts.
“I mean, it doesn’t help if we have it, and then we get the information three hours later. If I’m on campus and there is a robbery on campus, I’d like to know right then,” Tiffany Clark, sophomore, said.
Clark also said that last semester, a parent she knew called the school and found out about Eric Sheppard—the convicted gunman on campus last spring—six hours before the rest of campus was even alerted.
The Chief of the University Police Department, Ronald Seacrist, is responsible for making sure the message is sent out to the students.
In regards to timeliness, Seacrist said that campus police alert the students within 15 minutes of a crime being reported, and emails and texts are sent simultaneously. But, there is another issue with the alert system that Seacrist said affects whether a student receives the campus alerts or not.
“The problem is that the phone numbers aren’t staying current. If any of the student’s numbers change, we can’t get the alerts to them,” Seacrist said.
“The other issue is that the system is easy to opt out of. If you’ve ever replied ‘stop’ to any of the alerts, the alert will stop going to the phone until the student re-enters their number in banner. Too often they will opt out.”
Even though the students are able to opt out of the text messages, Chief Seacrist said that emails are not an option, and all students should receive them.
After the recent shootings at Umpqua Community College, Texas State University, Savannah State University and others, crime on campus is becoming an increasing concern for the American public.
The campus alert system is designed to keep the students aware and safe, and if students like Tiffany and many others continue to express their concerns, VSU may need to reevaluate the effectiveness of the alert system to ensure that students feel safe in case of a future emergency.