Bomb threat shows inefficiencies

Rambler Staff Editorial

Beginning at approximately 11:51 a.m. Monday, many Transylvania University students received a text message alert from the university instructing them to evacuate campus, as the university had received a bomb threat.

Some students at first greeted the alert incredulously, especially as it first “popped up” on computer screens via the Bradford Persistent Agent anti-virus software, a seemingly odd location for a bomb threat alert.

The university proceeded to check residential buildings for residents and begin to clear all buildings of any potential bomb. All buildings were evacuated well before 1 p.m., the supposed time when the bomb was to detonate. Evacuation plans were carried out effectively. However, a number of inefficiencies were revealed.

First, loudspeaker systems are built into many residence halls, including Clay, Davis and Forrer. These should have been used to notify residents of evacuations. They were not.

Second, different students received T-Alerts at markedly different times. Some did not receive T-Alerts until almost half an hour after they appear to have initially been sent, and some students report that the T-Alerts came through to their phones as late as Tuesday.

Third, many students failed to take the evacuation seriously. It is fortunate that there was not actually a bomb, as many residents failed to mobilize with a fitting haste.

These problems stem from different sources.

The usage of loudspeaker systems occurs during, for example, tornado warnings. Incorporating them into other campus emergencies would seem a wise course of action, which could be done by the Department of Public Safety or residence life.

The mechanics of the T-Alert system likely could be reviewed by DPS and Transy’s information technology staff to ensure it is efficiently delivered. Some other services that Transy could potentially use are Rave Mobile Safety and e2Campus, which claim to guarantee delivery.

Furthermore, the university should press during the year, aside from exclusively at its beginning, for all students to register for T-Alert text messages. This can be done on Inside Transy under “Calendar and News.”
Finally, along with subscribing to T-Alerts via text message, students should simultaneously take campus emergencies more seriously. Be it a fire alarm, tornado watch or bomb threat, students should take care to remind themselves that organized, rapid responses to the instructions of the university or its officials is essential for our own safety. While it is easy to see a fire alarm as unimportant or a bomb threat as preposterous, such judgments, if false, could lead to fatal consequences.

Editor’s note: Opinion Editor Lyman Stone, one of the members of the editorial board responsible for this editorial, is a member of the residence life staff, one of the parties involved in the incident. The other two members of the editorial board were Editor-in-Chief Erin Brock and Arts & Entertainment Editor Holly Brown

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