In Light of Massacre, Colleges Turn to Text Message Alerts


After last week’s Virginia Tech massacre, hundreds of colleges are considering a text-message emergency-alert system, and thousands of students have signed up for the cellphone service on campuses where it’s already in use.

“The standard changes after Virginia Tech,” said Mark Rosenberg, chancellor of Florida’s state university system. He is asking the state Legislature for $1.5 million for new emergency-alert systems that include text-message notices for the 11 state-run campuses, reports USA Today.

Virginia Tech school officials did not alert students until more than two hours after the first 911 call reported a shooting at West Ambler Johnston Hall. Most schools including Virginia Tech warn students with e-mail, but that may not be read for hours. “Parents expect us to be far more responsive to the safety of their sons and daughters,” Rosenberg said. Since the shootings, more than 500 colleges have contacted Omnilert to ask about setting up text-message alerts, said Nick Gustavsson, company chief technology officer. At the 34 campuses where Omnilert already operates, tens of thousands of students have signed up in recent days, he said.


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