Campus Alerts

College Students & Campus Alerts

University administrations, faculty and staff are responsible overall for keeping students safe and protected on campus. Parents expect professionals in higher education to establish security procedures and take precautions necessary to provide for the safety of their sons and daughters while they are students on campus, away from home. Security infrastructure might include a student alert system or campus emergency alerts operated by the university. However, students can and should embrace their own key roles in creating and maintaining a more secure academic environment for themselves and their peers.

Students Want Safer Environments: Panic Button System

Many students are keen to learn more about how they can help make their whole campus safer and more secure. One of many options would be a Panic button system. Given the bright, motivated young adults that populate colleges and universities, parents and faculty are not alone in being actively interested in establishing and maintaining school safety.

It’s healthy on many levels for students to get active in promoting campus safety and security. To start with, it provides a new sense of responsibility for, and ownership of their own living environment. It also fosters greater school pride. Finally, contributing to campus security encourages community-building relationships, while reducing the sense of helplessness individual students often feel about their ability to shape on-campus policies that affect their lives.

To increase the level of student engagement in maintaining their school’s security, the Administration should issue a genuine invitation to meetings to be held at specific alternative dates and times. School officials should request student participation in specific ways. When students offer their opinions, engage them in authentic and direct discussion of the security and safety issues on their minds. Never assume from their casual demeanor that your students don’t really care about the school’s perspective. When you’ve created an environment for honest and open dialogue on school safety, real progress can be made in many ways.

How to Boost Student Participation And Campus Alerts

Most students actually enjoy social activities and events, not just social media. They crave meaningful personal interaction beyond their laptops and mobile phones. Students who are actively engaged with activities and groups outside the classroom are less often isolated or prone to anger and antisocial behavior. Colleges and universities can enhance both student interaction and school safety by encouraging students to start their own club, alliance or campaign dedicated to staying safe on campus.

Offer information about student safety action models that already exist, such as one called SAVE (Students Against Violence Everywhere). SAVE was founded by students when a classmate died from violence on their college campus in North Carolina. The organization has expanded nationwide and is also active in K-12 schools, and community youth organizations.

In the past 30 years, SAVE grew from its original chapter in Charlotte, NC, to encompass over 220,000 members in more than 2000 schools across the country. Still coordinated by an umbrella nonprofit organization, chapters are led by students for students. They adopted orange and purple as their distinctive colors- in honor of Alex Orange, the student who was killed, and purple as the color universally associated with nonviolence. Another organization, the One Love Foundation, had its genesis at the University of Virginia where a female student was killed in a case of abusive relationship violence.

Students anywhere can start their own chapter of SAVE, or OneLove, or may be inspired by local heroes or incidents to start something new — picking and choosing their own focus and mission for advancing safety on campus. Encourage students to think and act outside their comfort zones when it comes to safety. Grassroots student organizations provide a welcoming forum where students can go to air their concerns openly, and not censor themselves for fear of being judged by adults in positions of authority. They may have significant contributions to make toward improving the student alert system. A campus Alert will immediately notify students of an emergency situation. Of course, a Campus Alert system can also be used for informational simple alerts rather than Emergency Notifications.

Make it Easier to Speak Up on Behalf of Everyone’s Safety Be sure to exploit and leverage popular social media that students already frequent to spread your meeting invitations around and allow students to get familiar with campus notification systems and campus emergency alerts. Launch discussions on your college’s home page and invite students to weigh in with comments about safety and security topics, or suggest they begin their own conversations online. They may be talking in disjointed, random ways about the subject already, but administrators can demonstrate by their communications outreach that they value new input, ideas and perspectives from students. No one knows and understands a campus better than the young people who actually study, work, play, eat, socialize and live there day and night, week after week.

“See Something, Say Something…Suggest Something”

All students should feel empowered to report anything that seems strange, troublesome or just plain wrong to them. If they have confidence that their reports of unsafe activity or conditions will be treated with respect and taken seriously, more students will feel motivated to report any safety risk or security threat they may encounter. What’s more, the increasing reality that peers all around them might talk to university administrators, could prevent certain acts of violence from ever taking place. Students should be taught to recognize behavior that may indicate another student is acting dangerously and encourage them to report that behavior via a Panic Alert type system, even if perhaps anonymously. Of course, a panic button system is best for immediate personal emergencies.

Safety as Standard Operating Procedure

Precautions taken by colleges to reduce violence and make it easier for students to call for help are not as effective as they could be unless students fully understand them. Safety includes raising awareness, for example, school text alerts about the best routes to take to and from class, how the panic button system works, and where the urgent call boxes are located.

Ask students to save important numbers in their phones, such as the campus security office and the hotline number for reporting incidents, so they’re always there if needed. Students should also be able to send and receive student text alerts. Encourage security guards and students to get to know each other personally. If university personnel know students’ names and their typical patterns of activity, everyone will be more at ease, and students will also know where to physically get help if they need it. Integrating small safety measures into daily routines  campus alerts can improve students’ comfort levels, and make all the difference in terms of response time by security personnel should a violent incident or imminent threat occur. Make sure that student information is always up to date. When transmitting a Emergency Student Alert, it’s imperative it reach the student where they are at any given time.

Keeping the Focus on Quality Education

A recent study published in Education Week suggests that greater and more consistent academic achievement by a student body positively influences the safety of their campus environment. The study found that while colleges located in poor urban areas with high crime rates are often less safe than other schools, levels of academic performance actually matter more for school safety than the nature of a school’s adjacent neighborhoods. Further, it demonstrated that healthy ongoing relationships among educators and students are a key factor protecting students from harm.

To summarize, if any of your students seem inclined to get proactive about the security of their campus, don’t neglect that valuable source of knowledgeable safety assistance, or let it go to waste. Students, through their dedication of time and money, are heavily invested in their education like faculty and administrators are. So give your students tangible opportunities to make their campus safer during the current academic year, and begin to establish a great reputation for campus safety systems and security going forward.