It seems that more than ever, students are worried about their own safety on campus.
That’s why when students received ForeWarn text messages early Sunday morning alerting them an intruder was on campus, many were on edge more than they would have been a year ago.
However, students didn’t know what to be on edge about.
Besides the initial three-word text, the only other information students received was in a follow-up text saying the immediate danger had cleared.
It seems logical that the ForeWarn system was used in this instance, but we can’t help but question the process in which its use was carried out.
Students had been victims to on-campus mugging, assault and battery recently, and no ForeWarn message was sent.
Therefore, many students imagined this instance to be much worse than previous events, whereas in reality, it was very similar.
The message induced fear in some students, and that fear wasn’t cleared up with an explanation. No e-mail was sent the next day explaining why the message was sent, what happened or what danger campus was really in.
ForeWarn is a strong system, but it’s whole point is to be a system of communication. All is lost if communication is not clear.
Police and administration need to work together to ensure the system is used properly. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not questioning the actions of the University Police on Sunday morning. They acted appropriately in sending out the message.
We’re saying there needed to be more communication. An e-mail, a post to the university website – anything, really, that would have given students and staff a heads up as to what was going on.
The ForeWarn system is used so infrequently, thankfully, that receiving a text reading “intruder on campus” is disconcerting.
We also question why campus’ speakers did not broadcast ForeWarn messages. It’s hard to imagine anything that would want to make a criminal leave campus more than him or her hearing a message alerting all of campus to be on the look-out.
Although it may make the criminal flee campus, lessening the chances of him or her being found, a criminal fleeing campus also means campus is safer, which is the ultimate goal.
If we’re all going to frequently hear the speakers test across campus, we’d like to think they’re at least being used when the time is right.
Police and administration also must be careful to be consistent with ForeWarn’s use. If a message is sent out for one mugging, it should be sent for every mugging.
Students need to feel they can rely on ForeWarn. This is not the first time there has been a problem with the system, and police and administrators need to work relentlessly to ensure problems such as these are minimized in the future.
We’re not going to far as to say Sunday’s use of the system was a failure, but it must be learned from. And the university must find a way to make the system effective without waiting for crimes to happen.