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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA re-evaluates how to respond to emergencies after gunman report incident

Gabriela Diaz
Gabriela Diaz / Arizona Daily Wildcat Students and employees were evacuated from the Student Union Memorial Center and the Administration building after there was reported that there was a man with a rifle inside of the Administration building. The area was secured, but no gunman has been found as of 9:00 p.m.

On the heels of a scare caused by a gunman reportedly seen on campus last Friday, the campus emergency response system will undergo several changes in the next few months.

University Information Technology Services employees are planning to install digital display boards in more than 200 classrooms, said Brian Seastone, University of Arizona Police Department commander and manager of emergency preparedness at the UA. The boards will display messages sent through the UAlert system, which the UA uses to notify campus community members of emergencies.

“When nothing is going on, it will appear like a digital clock,” Seastone said. “However, when the UAlert goes off, it will change color. It will begin to scroll and say, ‘Alert, alert.’ The UAlert message will then scroll across the screen.”

Work is beginning now and is estimated to be completed in December. The digital displays have been in the works for a couple of years, but were delayed by funding issues and the search for the right technology, Seastone said.

Last Friday’s incident caused the shutdown of several areas on campus while UAPD and Tucson Police Department officers searched for a man who was reportedly seen carrying a rifle near the Administration building.

After the incident, Tamara Boyens, a graduate student in second language acquisition and teaching, created an online petition in order to express her concern about campus safety. Boyens met with Seastone and Melissa Vito, the vice president of Student Affairs and chair of the Campus Emergency Response Team, on Tuesday to discuss the petition.

“I think it went really well,” Boyens said. “They [CERT] seemed really receptive to the ideas. I do think the petition helped.”

During the meeting, Boyens, Seastone and Vito discussed the possibility of making UAlert an opt-out system, which would require students to specifically indicate that they do not want to receive the alerts.

Currently, users must sign up for UAlert. There are 30,000 users of the alert system, with 1,800 new sign-ups following the incident Friday.

A year ago CERT implemented an icon on the “Next Steps” page for incoming freshmen to encourage them to sign up for the alert as part of the registration process. New freshmen also receive an email urging them to sign up for UAlert.

No final decision has been made regarding an opt-out system.

When a UAlert goes out, a message is also sent to university email addresses. However, on Friday, a number of emails did not end up in users’ inboxes because they were marked as spam, Seastone said. The response team aims to ensure that UAlert messages are delivered to email inboxes, not spam folders.

“I signed up for the alerts, but I didn’t get anything,” said Josephine Canizales, a biology freshman who heard about the incident through friends. It’s important to have these alerts because they can warn people and prevent them from entering into a dangerous area, Canizales added.

Other students noticed delays between the time the first text message was sent through UAlert and time the email went out.

“I was at home and safe, but it made me realize that if I had been on campus I wouldn’t have necessarily gotten any information about it right away,” said Hope Anderson, a graduate student in second language acquisition and teaching. “I have signed up for UAlert, so now I will get text messages. However, it concerns me that I might not get that up-to-date information.”

Anderson is working with Boyens to speak with the UA administration about campus safety.

Boyens said CERT members seemed to appreciate her idea of having a pop-up system on the campus computers so instructors are notified if there is an incident on campus. CERT members said they would consider it, according to Boyens.

In her petition, Boyens also suggested that the campus install an emergency siren. She added that Vito and Seastone said they would look into installing one.

Despite the cooperation Boyens said she has received from members of the administration, she has noticed a lack of effort from students, she said.

“Since nobody was shot, there’s just been this overwhelming sense of apathy from the student body that I’ve been getting,” Boyens said. “The administrative support is there. We just have to let them know that we really want it.”

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