Students unhappy with university notification system

The Daily News

Several students failed to receive emergency emails regarding Monday’s threat of a potential gunman on campus, leading some to question the safety of relying on email to provide students with immediate and potentially lifesaving information.

“We did hear of a few students that didn’t receive [the emergency emails],” said Fawn Gary, associate director of Unified Technology Support. “We found that all the students who didn’t had chosen to have their emails forwarded to a different email.”

Gary said once the emails leave the Ball State system there is no guarantee they won’t be blocked by different carrier’s spam blockers or junk mail folders. This is a potential problem, she said, because when every student receives the same email, carriers may believe it to be a malicious mass email.

“This is something we literally cannot control,” she said. “Once it leaves our system we have no way to ensure delivery or work with carriers like Gmail or Yahoo to fix the problem. 

“What we recommend to students is to maintain a copy in their Ball State email accounts, an option they can chose when setting up the forwarding process, and use [Ball State Webmail] for any official correspondence. If you forward off to another emails system you run the risk of not receiving the emails.”

Joan Todd, executive director of Public Relations, said Monday the system worked “quickly and efficiently,” and contained the proper information for students.

Junior advertising major Amanda Thornburg said she did not receive the emails.

“I usually receive Ball State emails just fine, although they may be a little delayed,” she said. “But this one was something that I really needed to know, and I didn’t get them.”

Ball State offers a service where students can sign up to receive text message alerts, which would allow students who do opt to forward their email to still receive emergency correspondence.

Thornburg said she had not signed up to receive the text message alerts because she gets her email sent to her phone, so she thought she was safe.

Several students who did receive the email or text message alerts said they believe the messages lacked the updates and explanation necessary to keep them safe. 

Freshman psychology major Stacia Osborn said she would have liked the emails to be more informative as well as more frequent.

“I don’t see how my security is supposed to be a focus if [the university] doesn’t send out updates,” she said. “How is that safe?”

Osborn said she believes the text message system would work better than emails because students are more likely to check their cellphones first thing in the morning. However, she didn’t learn about the system until after the emergency, when she promptly signed up to receive them. 

“They really need to tell students about the text system and about what is going on in general,” Osborn said. “It was just a bunch of confusion.”

Essica Essett, a public relations major sophomore, said she thinks the emails work fine, emails she gets sent directly to her cellphone.

“I got the information right as it happened, or soon after, I don’t really see a problem with it,” Essett said.

Andrew Baumann, a sophomore computer science major, said he thinks the emails worked fine, but he wished his professor would have been notified him of the residence hall lockdowns.

“I missed a quiz because my professor still held class,” he said. 

The Daily News was unable to reach the Office of Housing and Residence Life.

Baumann said the university should have offered more information about the situation and given students more of an explanation when the event ended.

“They basically sent an email that said it was all over,” he said. “Nothing happened, you would think they would have told [students] more, or had an alarm. Or something.”


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