Text messaging - the next step in campus safety

The Virginia Tech events have shed light on the importance of quick and efficient communication on college campuses.

Western Kentucky University has already been investigating different communication methods for about six months. WKU may turn a hot trend into a way to keep students safe.

The sound that a text message has arrived could soon have more significance. WKU's Telecommunications Department is researching a campus-wide system that would contact students through texting.

"They would be able to receive emergency alerts, bomb threats in particular buildings, a person walking across campus that they need to be aware of, anything like that, again, there's a couple of things we could do," said Edwin Craft, WKU telecommunications director.

"I think it's really important because students have a right to know what's going on on campus," Craft said.

Text-messaging was once reserved for quick exchanges between family and friends, but the university wants to use it as a notification system - utilizing the ability to send a mass electronic message to students.

"Students don't always get to read their emails and texting would be a lot faster because everyone has a cell phone," Craft said..

The logistics are being worked out through a mobile test group. Students would have to subscribe to the text-messaging service and most say they would.

I would receive that text message quicker than an email. Some days I don't even check my email and on those days i would be clueless. I think it'd be a good idea," student Catie Davenport said.

After the horrific events at VT many seem to agree it's a good idea.

"I heard on the news that they didn't tell the students after the first shooting. Nobody was aware til after the second shooting, and if something happened on campus I'd surely want to know so that I could protect myself," Craig Bristow said.

A focus group will meet in a couple of weeks to discuss concerns and possibilities for the campus-wide text-messaging system.

In a mass e-mail sent to Western students this morning WKU President Gary Ransdell said "The university is in the process of reviewing our own policies and procedures that would be triggered in the event of a similar incident, and if appropriate will adjust our own practices."

To view Ransdell entire e-mail click here.


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