College students not using text alert systems

College students not using text alert systems

This is a discussion on College students not using text alert systems within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; My Way News - Students Slow to Embrace Text Alerts Students Slow to Embrace Text Alerts Email this Story Feb 28, 12:56 PM (ET) By ...

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  1. #1
    VIP Member Array paramedic70002's Avatar
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    College students not using text alert systems

    My Way News - Students Slow to Embrace Text Alerts

    Students Slow to Embrace Text Alerts
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    Feb 28, 12:56 PM (ET)


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    COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - The massacre at Virginia Tech last year sent colleges nationwide scrambling to improve how they get alerts to students during crises on campus. One solution: Text messages sent to cell phones.

    But while hundreds of campuses have adopted text alerts, most students are not embracing the system - even in an age when they consider their mobile phones indispensable.

    Omnilert, a Northern Virginia company that provides an emergency alert system called e2Campus to more than 500 campuses, reports an average enrollment rate among students, faculty and staff of just 39 percent.

    Another industry leader, Blackboard Connect, reports even lower participation - 28 percent for the 300 campuses that use its Connect-Ed emergency alerts.

    Across the country, colleges "are really struggling with how to get the enrollment numbers up," said Steven Healey, Princeton University's public safety director and an expert on campus security.

    Other companies who provide the services declined to release detailed enrollment figures to The Associated Press.

    The University of Missouri's Columbia campus tried a giveaway - students who signed up for the alerts were entered in a drawing for an iPod Nano - in hopes of improving its rate. Just 15 percent of the roughly 28,000 students have requested text message alerts or cell-phone calls during emergencies.

    "I found out about it a long time ago and never signed up," said Kaitlin Foley, a first-year student at Missouri from Omaha, Neb. "I was too lazy."

    The low participation, and fresh concern following the deaths of five Northern Illinois University students by a gunman earlier this month, led University of Missouri president Gary Forsee to issue a new plea.

    "Alert systems are only as effective as our ability to make contact with you," he wrote in an e-mail to each of the system's four campuses, encouraging students to enroll immediately.

    Even at Virginia Tech, where a gunman killed 32 people and himself last April, four in 10 students still have not signed up for emergency text alerts. The campus also employs other alert methods, including e-mails and online instant messages.

    Campus safety experts point to several factors to explain the lack of interest among students, including feelings of invincibility and reluctance to give out personal information.

    Others hesitate to pay the fees - generally a matter of pennies - that some cell phone providers charge to send and receive texts. Colleges generally pay $1 to $4 per enrolled student to the companies that set up the alerts.

    "It will take time to earn their trust," said Bryan Crum, an Omnilert spokesman. "That day will come once they see how it can personally benefit them - and once they realize we're not out there to sell their personal information, and that 10-cent charges once or twice a semester is worth the price of personal safety."

    Safety experts emphasize that text alerts should be just one part of comprehensive notification systems that can include sirens, loudspeakers, security cameras, Web site announcements and more.

    On the day of the shooting, NIU sent out e-mail and voice mail alerts. The school does not participate in text message alerts.

    "You don't necessarily have to reach every person to get saturation," said S. Daniel Carter of Security on Campus, a Pennsylvania nonprofit that pushes for safer college campuses.

    "If you reach a quarter of the people on campus, they're going to start spreading the word. They're not going to start saying, 'Oh, that's interesting,' and close their phone," he said.

    On some campuses, enrollment rates are significantly higher: Boston University mandates participation, and other schools such as Colorado State and Florida State ask students to either sign up or decline before they register for class.

    Even on campuses where participation is high, glitches can reduce the effectiveness of text-message alerts.

    When two doctoral students at Louisiana State University were killed in December by an intruder in a campus apartment, this text alert went out: "PD notified of shooting @ Ed Gay Apts. 2 M victims-Police on scene/No suspects at this time. Please use caution."

    But half the students who had signed up to receive the alerts didn't get word of the shooting because of registration problems. ClearTXT, the company that provided the LSU alerts, required students to take an additional step to sign up by responding to a confirmation message - a "dual opt-in" approach also seen on other campuses.

    "Text messaging is not the panacea that many believe it to be," said Paul Langhorst, vice president of GroupCast Messaging Systems in St. Louis.

    As campus shootings continue to make headlines, student participation may increase, Healey said. At Princeton, 90 percent of first-year students are enrolled, compared with an overall rate of 64 percent for all undergraduates.

    The school's application for admission now asks potential students to provide their cell phone numbers in case of emergency.

    "These kids lived through Virginia Tech," he said, referring to the freshmen. "They were high school seniors about to head off to college."
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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array raevan's Avatar
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    So give them the right to carry, then if they don't get the alert they at least have protection of some sort. Another thing They send a text message and assume that all students have test messaging, well some propbably can't afford the extra charge on their bill. The schools need a better alert system if that is all they will do. It is like demanding that all students have cell phones or you are out of luck. Get real, Students now have to have a computer just to compete with others to get a good grade and some can't even afford that. College education cost are skyrocketing so who is going to pay for all the extras. It is much cheaper to let all students to have the ability of self defence.

  3. #3
    VIP Member Array Cupcake's Avatar
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    I guess that's just the sheeple "it won't happen here" attitude. Not that it matters much at the university I work at, I've signed up and every now and then they send a test message. When we had a huge gas main break and had to evacuate a large portion of the campus, noone heard a thing. Or the time a woman was robbed at gunpoint inside one of our buildings. Or the time...
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  4. #4
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    Does anyone else wonder if all of those text-alert warning beeps going off in the affected campus area would cause a maniac to accelerate the tempo of his attack? It probably wouldn't make a difference, but....

  5. #5
    Member Array 500Mag's Avatar
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    It could be a useful system but by no means is an end all solution. I'm relatively young and I never had a phone in college. Neither did a bunch of my friends, but maybe that's changed by now.
    "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the PEOPLE to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

  6. #6
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    No panacea is without its holes.

    It may be better than nothing, but it's only helping those with their "heads down" in the text devices in the first place. Though, it could be argued that this crowd is the one needing the most help to eject out of reverie into the real world, in the case of a deadly situation going down. In that sense, I suppose the system isn't a complete dud.
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