The tragic shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007 that killed 32 people and wounded over 20 more shocked the college world and also changed security and safety on college campuses nationwide.
As part of the new security requirements, under the Jeanne Clery Act, all colleges are required to have an emergency notification system to alert all students and faculty of any incidents occurring that are an immediate threat to the safety of the campus community.
To help keep the campus and its community safe, Sonoma State University is introducing its new Emergency Notification System (ENS). It’s a program that will allow Sonoma State to send out emergency messages via text message, voice message, email and social media sites all at the same time.
“Instead of our office needing to write emergency messages to the Emergency Notification System and then to the email system, the Emergency Notification System will manage the distribution of all of the messages simultaneously,” said Missy Brunetta, director for emergency management and continuity planning of Police and Safety Services.
Students are not automatically enrolled to receive these messages, so in order for people to receive them on their mobile phones, everyone must log into their MySSU account and enter their number under the phone type “Mobile.”
The system will only be used to notify faculty, staff and students of any situation on campus that poses an immediate threat to anyone’s safety.
If the campus suffered damage to buildings or infrastructure that required evacuation or shelter in place, the alert could be sent out to everyone and they would receive up-to-date information, as it’s known.
“It is critical that we can quickly and efficiently communicate messages to the community during an emergency,” said Brunetta. “During a significant emergency, there will not be enough police officers or other university officials to visit each classroom, on campus to provide instruction; mass notifications allow the university to provide information that will help faculty, staff and students make decisions during an emergency that ensure their safety.”
The new system is designed specifically toward the campus alone. The communities surrounding Sonoma State have their own emergency notification systems using Nixile and other alerts, which communicates with members in similar ways.
“The beauty of the new program is that it has multiple deliver methods [phone, text, email] and it’s important that we are able to community with the community during a crisis,” said Sonoma State Police Chief Nate Johnson.
If students, staff or faculty have any questions or want to confirm their status in the system, email firstname.lastname@example.org.