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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: UA consistently failing the students it has the responsibility to keep safe

A shooting occurred at Campbell Avenue and Second Street on Monday night, yet not one UA student received a school-wide alert about it. In fact, many students did not hear about the incident until the next morning. Considering both the incident’s proximity to campus and the imminent danger involved, the complete lack of notifications is unacceptable.

This is not the first time information about dangerous situations on or around campus has been withheld from students. When the body of a student was found at the Henry Koffler building last month, students relied on Twitter and the online feed of the Daily Wildcat to hear about it. Even then, many students were not aware of the situation until long after it occurred.

Yet, three UAlerts were sent out Feb. 17 for a brief power outage. The second notification was sent only eight minutes after the first and the third was sent only nine minutes after the second. How could the UA respond with such immediacy to a power outage that lasted a total of 17 minutes, yet fail to inform its students that three suspects involved in a shooting were still at-large near or on campus?

At the time of this column’s writing, police were still searching for the suspects of Monday’s shooting. This means there is still a real danger present to our campus. Students need to be informed about potential threats to their safety. The university should be obligated to immediately notify its students should any more developments occur.

Students need to know what areas to steer clear of, whether it’s safe to leave their dorms or the libraries, whether there is still an armed suspect in their vicinity and whether there is any threat to their safety as soon as the university gets any information.

Yes, it is still important for students to be informed of events like power outages, but it is more important they are informed of events in which there is potential risk to their lives.

On the UAlert website, the description given for the service says, “UA Alert is a free service that delivers emergency alerts to registered UA students, faculty and staff.”

An armed shooter and a deceased fellow student are much more pressing emergencies than a power outage so short that most students weren’t affected.

Under the UAlert website’s Frequently Asked Questions tab, the answer to a question about what types of events activate UAlert says, “UAlert will be activated in cases of violent activity, including: active shooter, immediate threat to the UA community, including off-campus events.”

Apparently, this system is not functioning properly, because both of those triggers were present during Monday’s shooting. Yet students received zero communication from the UAlert system.

The UAlert system should not only act as a response to students being in danger, but it should also act as a means of prevention. Students should be notified as soon as any threat to campus arises, which would allow students to avoid putting themselves in harm’s way in the first place.

The UAlert program was created with the intention of keeping students safe. With how unpredictable events around a university campus can be, such a program needs to be seamless. The university has a responsibility to do everything in its power to improve the system and keep students who depend on it safe.

Students should not have to learn about crises through concerned parents’ and friends’ text messages or through social media apps. We deserve to hear about threats to our university from our university, and we deserve to hear about them promptly.

Follow Jessica Suriano on Twitter.

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