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Griffon Alert now notifies of weather closings

The Griffon alert system has been operational since December 2008, but was never used for snow days until 2010.

Administration originally only wanted to use Griffon Alert for true emergency situations.

“Their real concern was that people would think that if they got the Griffon Alert they would get things like we do with email and they would get personal messages and advertisements and people wouldn’t pay attention so they just wanted to focus on true emergencies,”Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, Dr. Judith Grimes said.

The Griffon Alert System added snow days for several reasons.
“Any time you close campus it is a safety issue,” Associate Director of Public Relations and Marketing Kent Heier said. “We think it’s an important thing for students, faculty and staff to be a part of the Griffon Alert System, and it’s hard to convince people we might have an emergency like Virginia Tech, but if you can tell people that if you sign up for Griffon Alert you’re going to find out quickly when classes are cancelled, that’s a little more tangible. That’s a little more real.”

The Griffon Alert system currently has 2,599 subscribers. The Griffon Alert System gained 1,054 new subscribers between January and February. The reason for this increase in subscribers was in part due to adding school cancelations to the system.

“When the text went out last week, they would all get so excited, and then it became evident who the cool kids were that had this ‘Griffon Alert thing,’ that used to be not cool,” Residence Hall Director Bradley Dixon said. “So then they were going to the computer lab and signing up for it.”

The Griffon Alert system cost around $250,000 for the all the current hardware and software. Missouri Western pays $7,300 annually to the vendor to provide text message, email and voice alerts.

The Griffon Alert System contains beacons in the hallways, a P.A. system, VIOP phones in the class rooms, voice messages, mass text messaging and email. They are getting ready to add exterior lights that will signal in case of an emergency in a building.

The Griffon Alert System was put in place after the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, when campuses across the U.S. were looking for ways to communicate campus emergencies to students.

“We have always had safety systems on campus, but certainly there has been an increase because of activity on, whether it be Virginia Tech or something else, to upgrade the ability we have to get information to students and staff right away,” Grimes said.

The Alert System has been advertised lately with the help of SGA.

SGA President Dillon Harp said, “We were contacted earlier in the year to at least try and get the word out there about it a little bit, where they were wanting help with it because they had contributed a lot of money toward the program, and felt like it was being underutilized,” Harp said. “With the recent snow storms we had, seemed like a good time to put it out on the marquee.”

SGA also added Griffon Alert information on their Facebook page.

Only 1,987 students are subscribed, and there are 6,134 students on campus.

“It’s not an information source; it’s just for emergencies, and I think that’s why students don’t want it. If it’s not a constant feed of information, students just aren’t interested,”  Dixon said. “I need them to sign up, but how do I get them to do that?”

Students can sign up for Griffon Alert through Goldlink or at www.missouriwestern.edu/griffonalert/

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