While closing campus three days last week may have thrown Missouri Western professors into a frenzy, we won’t pretend we didn’t enjoy the already much-needed vacation. We applaud Western’s administration on their concern for campus safety. Choosing to close that many days in a row hadn’t happened since the last significant ice storm in 2008.
Each day was more surprising than the first, as we woke up early waiting to see that coveted email in our inboxes saying campus would be closed and we could go back to bed.
But that’s the problem. We waited. And waited. And waited.
We were left waiting for an email that, for many, never showed. Social media helped to spread the word for those students that were fortunate enough to receive notifications from Griffon Alert or who thought to check the Missouri Western Facebook and Twitter pages.
Our concern is that many students were not informed of the school closings on Tuesday and Wednesday in time to turn back around from heading towards their morning classes. One student even got into an accident on school property that could have been totally avoided had she known not to even drive to campus.
On Wednesday, it became apparent that students who thought they were signed up to receive notifications from Griffon Alert might not have been signed up after all. Even students that were returning students who had received Griffon Alert notifications in past semesters, did not receive notifications last week.
On the third and final snow day on Thursday, students found an actual email from the university, a welcome change from the previous days of having to get confirmation from multiple sources for answers.
Thursday left us all wondering “If a university-wide email option had been available to use on Thursday, why was it not used the two days before?” This email could have easily been used in conjunction with the Griffon Alert notifications, to make sure that all students and faculty were made aware of the closings.
While Griffon Alert is a great tool for spread news on campus quickly, it’s currently not being used effectively.
A copy of a Griffon Alert brochure from the campus police department makes the entire situation even more confusing. While Griffon Alert notifications were used to spread the word about campus closing last week, the brochure states that Griffon Alert will not be used for school closings. This suggests that another method would be used to spread this information.
The brochure also states that Griffon Alert will be used to inform students and faculty about active shooters. In light of recent events, this has us nervous. If not all students are receiving Griffon Alerts, when they had thought they were signed up for them, this doesn’t seem like an effective way to reach students in situations where timing could mean the difference between life and death.
It’s clear from the multiple closings last week that student and faculty safety is a top priority to Western. We hope administration will use that same momentum to address student concerns and make the changes necessary to ensure everyone receives campus updates in a more efficient manner.