Written by: Jahsoulay W. Walton
Southern Adventist University’s Campus Safety uses an emergency communication service called Omnilert to send text messages to students. Some students have expressed frustration with the system, claiming they have signed up to receive updates but still do not receive messages. The Accent contacted Campus Safety to clarify how students can register for Omnilert.
Olivia Fisher, junior international development studies major, said she believed she signed up, but never receives texts.
Anaya Miller, sophomore fine arts major, said, “I have [signed up to receive text alerts], but I haven’t been getting texts. … I have gotten a couple of calls this semester, though.”
In an email, Shawn Haas, associate director of Campus Safety, wrote that he has not heard about any issues regarding students, faculty or staff not being alerted.
He added that, as far as the department knows, students’ issues surrounding Omnilert stem from a lack of knowledge on how to sign up and how frequently individuals must repeat the process. The other alternative answer for why students are not getting Omnilerts is that some might confuse the system with Southern’s “Non-Emergency Text Messaging,” which students sign up for on the front page of myaccess.southern.edu. Students may believe that if they signed up for the messaging system on MyAccess, they have signed up for all alerts from Southern. However, both alerts, emergency and non-emergency, must be signed up for separately.
Haas wrote this regarding the issue: “When someone signs up for text alerts, it is good for one calendar year. Near the end of the subscription, they will receive an email notification to prompt them to renew for an additional year. … If someone is not signed up and would like to, they can visit www.southern.edu/notify. If someone is signed up and has not received a notification, they can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to review the account.”
On Southern’s website, the text alert system is described this way: “Because safety is a priority, Southern Adventist University uses a multi-pronged approach to communicating with students and employees during an emergency. The Omnilert Emergency Text Message System is one way the university attempts to communicate urgent information. Be aware that there may be certain circumstances in which electronic communication cannot be relied upon.”