I can’t stress enough how much of a failure our alert system proved to be last night when the heart of our campus experienced a bomb threat.
Here’s a timeline of events:
~9:20 – Thanks to opinion editor Harrison Jobe, the DTH office was alerted that the Union, Undergraduate Library, and David Library were being evacuated.
~11 – Alert Carolina is FINALLY updated to reflect the current crisis situation on campus.
~11:45 – Alert Carolina text messaging goes out telling students about the event which happened 2.5 hours prior.
This is a failure across the board. The fact that Chancellor Thorp said that officials were doing “all the right things” is not even an overstatement, it is a lie.
At around noon today, an email was sent out trying to explain the rationale of the DPS. It reiterated that there are 3 scenarios in which the siren is activated:
* An armed person on or near campus
* A major chemical spill or hazard
* A tornado
I understand that the threat did not constitute a warning severe enough to activate the siren. However, it does constitue a text message alert.
The Pit is a place that receives a lot of foot traffic, even at night. A timely text would have kept people away who were planning on approaching and would have eased evacuation of students already there.
DPS had this to say:
In all cases, the University focuses first on responding to the threat
and protecting those directly at risk. Once that essential work is done,
and when the facts are available, we will post information about campus
security to the Alert Carolina Web site.
If it is impossible to provide officers on the scene and send out a text SIMULTANEOUSLY, then we have a serious safety issue on this campus that must be addressed. This excuse is lame and it doesn’t account for the 2.5 HOUR DELAY in providing a text alert.
Students entered my dorm telling me that gunshots were heard. I seriously doubted this rumor, which turned out to be false. However, in the absence of real information, such rumors get started and spread. People studying in the lobby were afraid to be near a window.
Kudos to the Daily Tar Heel for relocating to a street lamp after being evacuated and for providing updates online through the website and Twitter. The staff that stayed got a story to press at 5 in the morning and still got papers out today.
DPS should have been watching them more closely last night and gleaned a lesson in efficiency.