BUPD will begin using social networking to reach students

Photo by Reid Bruner

Word gets out faster than ever on Facebook and Twitter. Soon Butler University emergency alerts will, too.

Next semester expects students, faculty and staff to have the option of receiving official Butler notifications on the popular social media websites.

“It’s the age we live in,” said Andrew Ryan, assistant chief of police at Butler University Police Department.

The integration is the result of a change in the software vendor used to distribute the school’s messaging service.

A three-to-five-year contract with the provider Send Word Now will replace the more expensive current agreement with Honeywell Instant Alert Plus. The new deal is scheduled to be signed later this year and take effect in January.

Wilkey said the updates will still be available by voicemail, text and email, but the additions of Facebook and Twitter notifications could prove especially popular.

“We think you need to hit every possible communication medium you can,” said Kathleen Wilkey, senior director of application services for information technology.

Freshman Christiaan Ruff, an arts administration and dance major said, “Using the web is the best way to reach everyone reliably and quickly.”

Two different types of alerts exist: emergency notifications are sent to all available mediums warning of a verified campus emergency and a timely warning is an email designed to make the campus aware of criminal activity.

“It’s a known immediate or potential threat to your campus where you need to get information out as quickly as possible telling them to do something or not do something,” Ryan said.

As an institution that receives federal funding, Butler is subject to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.

According to the 1998 law, the university is required to issue “timely reports to the campus community on crimes considered to be a threat to other students and employees.”

The Department of Education handbook states that the decision to produce a timely warning depends on “a case-by-case [examination] of all factors surrounding a crime such as the nature of the crime and the continuing danger to the campus community.”

Students said they are pleased to be alerted to ongoing investigations and find the warnings useful.

“Informing will not hurt anyone,” Ruff said. “It will only be beneficial toward resolving the issue.”

Senior biology major Shannon Knall said, “I would make a note in my head to be aware.”

“I’d be looking over my shoulder a little more suspicious.”

Wilkey said those on campus are highly encouraged to sign up for every form of safety notification, including Twitter and Facebook alerts when they become available in the future.

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