Campus still in the dark

If for some reason an incident like the fatal shootings at Virginia Tech occurred on the campus of Florida A & M University, only 1,472 affiliates of the University would be notified. That is less than 15 percent of enrolled students.

Sherri S. Luke, an officer for the department of public safety, said her division is concerned about how the lack of subscribers to e2campus limits their effort to make students aware of impending danger.

“The system is only as good as the number of registered users,” Luke said Tuesday.

The system was designed to warn students of weather emergencies, crimes in progress, evacuations and other incidents that could jeopardize their safety.

It allows administrators to send time-sensitive messages in the event of an emergency, to subscribers via mobile phones, emails and pagers. E2campus has been servicing the university since June 2006, accruing only 1,472 subscribers as of Sept. 11.

The text message service is provided by OMNILERT, a web-based service that specializes in mass communications services for sending time-sensitive messages to large groups of people.

OMNILERT enables its clients to send urgent messages to multiple devices, like computers, cellular phones and pagers, to its subscribers.

Luke said like in the case of a Virginia Tech incident, students could be warned not to come to campus.

“Awareness is the number one prevention tool available,” Luke said. “This system provides timely notification to its users and can be an asset for reducing victimization.”

The system immediately notifies subscribers [students, faculty, staff, radio stations, television stations and others] of the situation despite geographical location.

But the lack of subscribers to e2campus limits the effort to make students aware of impending danger.

Luke said even if only 50 percent of the university registered with the system, “we stand a good chance of reaching a larger number of students by word of mouth.”

She said a student would tell other students in the vicinity spreading the word quickly.

ronically, students are not aware of the service.

Chris Hayes, 19, said he has never heard of the service but thinks the idea is good.

“It’s not like they are calling you, they’re just texting,” said the sophomore architecture student from Palm Beach.

This same lack of knowledge is also a reality for students like Marlon Wilson, 18. But unlike Hayes, he has registered for the service.

Wilson said he never heard about e2campus until he was randomly perusing the campus.

Wilson, a general studies student from Newburg, NY, said he registered during the summer and has since received about three notifications since school started last month.

“I think it’s very helpful with the state of schools today and safety issues,” Wilson said.

Students, staff and parents can register free of charge by going to or by clicking on the FAMU Alert System on the bottom left corner of the FAMU Web page.

The university sent their last notification on Sept. 5, informing students of a chemical spill on campus.