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Friday, Nov. 4, 2011 2:24 p.m.

University launches text message alert system

The University launched today a new alert system to send text messages directly to students, staff and faculty if there is an ongoing threat to campus.

Enrolled students will get a text message welcoming them to the program. Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell said the University has 9,200 phone numbers for members of the community.

“The great thing about this system is it will be faster, it will be more reliable,” he said Friday.

Community members who did not receive a text message can update their personal information through the Banner program.

Darnell first announced GW’s plan to use the new alert system Tuesday, after GW was slammed with criticism over the response to a shooting in Georgetown and the arrests near campus of two armed men. The arrests and the shooting have not yet been linked by the Metropolitan Police Department.

Text message alert systems gained momentum after the shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007 because of their ability to quickly disseminate emergency alerts. Last year, Campus Safety Magazine polled campus protection officials, finding that 58 percent of schools use text messages for emergency notifications. In an interview during his first month at the University in 2010, Darnell said he wanted to evaluate GW’s security programs before implementing new measures, but pointed to a text messaging system as a likely priority.

Darnell will hold a safety and security forum next Thursday to address concerns and misconceptions about the safety and security department. The event is from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Jack Morton Auditorium.

“I have some pretty good with relationships with students that I talk to from time to time, and there seems to be general misconceptions [about the office,] but certainly Monday’s issue is part of that,” Darnell said.

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