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June 30, 2008 - Image 27

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-06-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Orientation Edition 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Getting the message across

15

M hen Cho Seung-Hui
shot and killed two stu-
dents in a Virginia tech
dorm on the
morning of April
16, my friend
was asleep in the
adjoining build-
ing. It wasn't
until he was
between classes
on campus a few EMMARIE
hours later that HUETTEMAN
he learned about
the shooting
- via text message, from a friend
off-campus.
While Virginia Tech used e-mail
alerts before, it began requiring
that students register cell phones
with the urgent notification system
in order to register for classes after
the shooting last summer. It also
uses other ways to notify students,
like instant messaging, and even
offers alerts for parents. This takes
the extra burden off the school's
website, which crashed on April 16
due to unusually high usage.
Just under a year later, we finally
have our own system. The Univer-
sity of Michigan launched its new

emergency alert system Monday,
which allows students to receive
text message alerts and voice mes-
sages on up to two phones. How-
ever, unlike Virginia Tech, the
University of Michigan will let
students choose whether or not to
enroll in the system.
What a way to kill a promising
program.
The Daytona Beach News-Jour-
nal reported Monday that colleges
nationwide are strugglingto garner
student participation in cell phone
alert programs. While ITfacts, an
online data compiler, reported last
year that 90 percent of students
carry cell phones, the companies
that provide these alert systems
report low enrollment.
Unfortunately, the University of
Michigan is only lessening the sys-
tem's chances for success by mak-
ing enrollment more difficult than
it needs to be. The e-mail encour-
aging students to register offered
a supposedly helpful link to Wol-
verine Access. From there, the Uni-
versity expects students to notice
the small announcement in the
left-hand side of the page, directing
them to "Student Business." They

then must log in to the website and
find the new "Phone and UM Emer-
gency Alert Numbers" option, bur-
ied in the middle of the "Personal
Information" links.
If students haven't given up by
that point, they then must figure out
what to choose for "Phone Type."
Is a cell phone "Mobile," "UM Alert
Text Message" or whatever "Cur-
rent Address Voice" means? "Tele-
phone" seems like an easy prompt
- until you use parentheses for
the area code and end up with an
ambiguous error message.
Let's be honest: Students are
generally lazy. If it won't affect
our grade, we tend to drag our feet
- if we participate. By failing to
simplify the form and burying it in
Wolverine Access, the University
basically ensured low enrollment.
But the University's biggest blun-
der may be its willingness to bow to
student opposition. Because stu-
dents are concerned about receiv-
ing too many alerts, the University
has promised to use the system only
in the event of a major hazardous
chemical spill, a tornado warning
or a shooter loose on campus. Of
course, only certain shootings qua=

ify. The:
near Nor
manhun
made th
ment of
woman 7
Fail
aler
T
The t
students
spam th
I'm usu.
freedom
ple from
When
Tech'sr
also aler
lations
my frien
only con
importa
"If as
dent tha
somethi
to camp

shooting of a home intruder And as he aptly noted, the most
rth Campus and subsequent important response tocthectragedy is
t in January wouldn't have "taking the necessary steps to move
e cut, according to Depart- forward and prepare the campus
f Public Security spokes- for, God forbid, future incidents."
Diane Brown. The University has a responsi-
bility to promote campus safety, no
matterhowinconvenientitseemsto
ing to require students. By making participation
, , in this innovative alert system vol-
ts is failing to untary and unnecessarily complex,
ithas ensuredthat the programwill
)roteCt US. be ineffectivebefore it even gets off
the ground. Requiring subscription
to voice or text alerts isn't a huge
Jniversity knows that some leap considering that the e-mail
are more worried about notification system was compul-
an campus security. While sory. Furthermore, with all of the
ally a champion of student resources and qualified individuals
, today I'm pro saving peo- the University has at its disposal,
:their own ignorance. this system should be too easy not
asked about Virginia to use, especially because the price
notification system, which for not using it is too great.
its students to class cancel- My friend agreed, commenting
and weather emergencies, that he thought most universities
d spoke with a wisdom that would make this emergency notifi-
nes from seeing the system's cation system mandatory.
nce first-hand. "They almost have to," he added,
nything, I feel more confi- "because you never know."

t I will be informed about
ng important before I come
us or in due time," he said.

This column originally
ran on Mar.12, 2008.

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