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On The Emergency Text Message System

oh hey man what's up

Just a little message

After the suspicious package was found today on campus and the surrounding area was shut down by NYPD, many of us were anxious to find that, while Barnard students received multiple alerts, Columbia did not send any alerts about the event.  David Fine, CC’13, former chair of the SGB and editor emeritus of The Current, had some words to say about this.

This could be a piece about the Boston Marathon bombings and how Columbia is one of the softest targets in New York City. It could be a piece bemoaning that Public Safety hasn’t issued any statements describing their security measures, or even any public protocols for active shooter or bombing events on campus. It could be about how in my four years here I don’t recall ever being told what to do in the event of a mass emergency, or even how to conduct myself during a lockdown.

It could be a piece about the War on Fun, and how Public Safety often seems most occupied with assuring that students don’t become liabilities to the university. Or, how they constantly put in jeopardy various school traditions through their hand-wringing nannying. How so very often Public Safety seems concerned not necessarily with our “safety” but with that of the university’s reputation and rules.

Alternatively, we could talk about how Public Safety charges student groups outrageous sums of money to cover potentially controversial events on campus. How if groups don’t pay those funds then those events can’t happen. It could be a piece about all of that.

But, instead, I’d like to ask one simple question of Public Safety: why doesn’t your emergency text message system work? A few hours ago, the NYPD locked down College Walk for a brief period of time due to a bomb threat.

It turned out to be nothing, but it was serious enough that the NYPD roped off whole blocks of Broadway, and the university decided to send out a mass text message: “Columbia University has reported a bomb threat at 116th street and broadway all recipients are to shelter in place until all clear is given by the NYPD.”

Useful information. Too bad that we all received that text about half an hour after the police started locking down the area—if we received it at all (still waiting for mine). An emergency alert system that delivers its message five minutes late is unacceptable, thirty minutes is beyond rhyme or reason.

Whether it’s a result of outdated technology or slow decision-making, the mass text message delay is unacceptable. One day it could mean the difference between life and death for many Columbians. Thankfully today wasn’t that day. We got a free pass, a do over.

This problem should be a piece of cake for a president who’s so concerned about his own safety that he walks around with a bodyguard on campus. Fix this now, Public Safety, and avoid making a mockery of your own name.

New forms of communication via Shutterstock

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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Love you DAVID FINE

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Holy shit! Shooting at MIT!

  • Arielle says:

    @Arielle 1. One hour after the “all clear” came out and 45 minutes after I received the texts from Columbia, I got an automated phone-call from Barnard telling me about the alert and then saying it was all-clear.
    2. The time-stamp on my text was 8:08pm, but I did not actually get it until 8:28. Not sure whose fault that is, Columbia’s or the cell-tower, but it’s worth mentioning.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous this was fast… no more work now that you’re done with your thesis, fine?

  • SEAS '14 says:

    @SEAS '14 File a complaint with CUIT. Hopefully they’ll fix it.

  • wait says:

    @wait does prezbo really walk around on campus with a body guard? is it to protect his hair?

    1. Office of the president says:

      @Office of the president He does. No comment on the hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous according to my ssol i’ve been subscribed to the text messaging service since jun 08, 2012…

    did i receive any sort of notification tonight about the area lockdown?


    1. anon says:

      @anon signed up for text message ( i have gotten them before) but did not get one. Just found out about it now at 4:30 am. Guess i woulda been dead if it was a real issue

    2. Anonymass says:

      @Anonymass The last time I received an emergency text was on Nov 7, 2012. Since then everytime Bwog reports about some concerning campus news that I wish I had heard from the authorities, I log into SSOL to check my registration status and subscription status.

      Does Bwog have a hand in this? To keep their traffic up?

  • anon says:

    @anon Especially given what has just happened at MIT, the late/lack of alert is completely unacceptable.

  • CC13 says:

    @CC13 #paralipsis

  • CC 14 says:

    @CC 14 …actually still waiting on any sort of email or text etc.

  • Tyler says:

    @Tyler I actually just sent multiple emails to public safety and other departments about this as well. After just seeing what took place at MIT, It is actually embarrassing that our message system failed for this past incident. They need to get their act together, because god forbid something happens here and the student population is completely unaware of it.

    1. Tyler says:

      @Tyler Make note, I never even received an email or text

  • chill out says:

    @chill out Narrator: My suitcase was vibrating?

    Airport Security Officer: Nine times out of ten it’s an electric razor. But … every once in a while [looks around, leans in conspiratorially] … it’s a dildo. [leans back] Of course, it’s company policy never to imply ownership in the event of a dildo. We have to use the indefinite article, “a dildo”, never … your Dildo.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous This is why I always take the batteries out of my dildo

  • CC'14 says:

    @CC'14 I didn’t get a single message either. We need to set up a live emergency page that people can post to as well as we can all receive official messages on.

    1. Confused says:

      @Confused But how would you know to check that page in the first place?

      1. Anonymass says:

        @Anonymass If that page is a Twitter feed that we can follow, we get live updates.

  • Yeahh says:

    @Yeahh That awkward moment when you have to go to bwog to find out there’s a bomb threat on campus.

    I never got the text and neither did my friends. We were all flipping out because we had no idea what was going on.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I got a message. Also, when the police block off an entire section of campus I would consider that a clue.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I assumed it was just an overreaction to 40s on 40

    2. Anonymass says:

      @Anonymass Anybody thinks this comment got downvoted because he or she got a message? We’re all jealous.

  • got emergency texts during sandy says:

    @got emergency texts during sandy but *nothing* still (11:20 am the next day!!)…I was stuck inside all day yesterday with prospies so I literally had no clue until I checked Bwog just now.
    not cool, Columbia, not cool.

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