Campus alert system strives to raise awareness

The Lion’s Roar / Megan McCormick
On October 27, students, faculty and staff received phone calls, text messages and e-mails to alarm them of a threat made in the Hammond area.  Shortly after, another alert was sent to confirm that the suspect was in custody. Everyone is encouraged to access these alerts through their LeoNet to become aware of unpredictable events.

From natural disasters that range from hurricanes and tornadoes to unpredictable events such as bomb threats or shootings, these are problems that can occur at any time.          For such events of distress, the campus has code-blue telephones spread around the entire university, which are used to contact the police when a student needs help. However, it can often make students wonder how they can stay alert and safe for future disasters. To answer this, the university has provided an emergency alert system for all students and faculty members linked to their university email accounts. 

“In order to receive Emergency Alert information, all students, faculty and staff are urged to go to the Emergency Notification tab on the bottom left of their LeoNet or PeopleSoft account,” said Executive Director of Public and Governmental Affairs Erin Cowser. “All university email addresses are automatically registered in the system; however, in order to receive text, voice or additional email messages, individuals must input their contact information. Information provided here will only be used for Southeastern Emergency Alert System notifications. All personal information is private and will not be shared.”

Students can also add additional contacts and information such as their own cell phone number or their families email addresses and cell phone numbers.

“The safety and wellbeing of our Southeastern family is of paramount importance,” said Cowser. “Making sure your contact information is correctly entered in the Southeastern Emergency Alert System will help us to communicate should threats arise, whether they be weather related or involving a situation of imminent danger.”

Although this alert system has been created to provide safety for students and faculty, there are still students who are unaware that this feature exists.  Both the University Police Department and other organizations have been working together to make sure other students know this alert system feature is available to them. 

“We put it on every parking map that we ever gave out,” said Police Lieutenant Patrick Gipson. “We went to the Southeastern 101 classes, and we talked about it there. It’s not just the UPD, so we’re advertising it every chance we get and other offices are also. Student conduct, the counseling center, the president’s office, a lot of information goes out plus it is on the website, Southeastern’s main page.”

It should be noted that for those who are interested in signing up for the alert system it is free to do so, and it will not spam or send notifications for daily campus events. 

“We don’t use the mass emergency alert system for anything other than emergencies,” said Gipson. “They don’t use it for anything that’s not an emergency. Something that’s going to close the campus or something that’s a danger to students. If there was a tornado we’re expecting to come through the area, we want students to shelter in place, [and] we’ll send out a mass message. It’s not going to be for something frivolous.” 

Gipson explained how the alert system couldn’t necessarily prevent disasters, but it could reduce the number of people who would be impacted by the disaster. Gipson also went into detail on a future project the UPD hopes to accomplish. 

“We are working on getting reverse calls for the blue phones on campus,” said Gipson. “We’re working on setting it up to where we can do a reverse call to all those phones through a single land line. What you say into the phone comes out of all those blue phones. That would be an additional way to get information to someone who may not have their phone turned on, their phone may beep because they got a text and they may not think to check it and they’ll still get that emergency information.”