“Setting up a Twitter account is not difficult, it’s just procedures and staffing to make sure that once we get it set up, we use it consistently like we use all of our other methods.”
Tony Proudfoot, a university spokesperson
A new Twitter account will launch by the end of the semester for emergency notifications, said a university spokesperson.
Tony Proudfoot said Ball State Marketing and Communications began considering it at the end of the last academic year, when student demand increased.
“Setting up a Twitter account is not difficult, it’s just procedures and staffing to make sure that once we get it set up, we use it consistently like we use all of our other methods,” Proudfoot said. “We have found that that is an effective way to get the word out quickly and it’s something that students look for.”
Emergency notifications are situations when the campus community needs to take action to protect themselves.
Proudfoot said they use multiple outlets to get the message to students, including email, text message, the website, digital signage and traditional media.
“I would consider the text [message] probably the most immediate communication that we have,” Proudfoot said. “So what we do is we sequence.”
He said Twitter would be low on his list of priorities, but that all of these mediums are usually used within five minutes. Since the university website is the official source of information in the event of an emergency, it is their first priority and any information that’s going to be posted is going to be at bsu.edu.
“As soon as we send out a tweet that has that short code that’s going to direct people back to the website, we want to make sure that information is there when they connect back to it,” Proudfoot said.
Proudfoot said concern about emergency alerts was rare before the shooting at Ivy Tech in April 2007, and that Twitter wasn’t even an idea then.
He said each incident has individual factors that determine how quickly an alert comes out or from where.
“One of the most important balances we have is ensuring the campus has the information they need in the time that they need it, while also not barraging the campus by over communicating,” he said. “If we over communicate, we run the risk of having a circumstance where people start to become numb to it and when we really need people to respond, they don’t and that’s a safety issue too.”
For example, on Saturday the alert came out about two hours after a student was stabbed during an attempted armed robbery in part because the victim went to IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital on his own instead of calling police.
“We can’t control when victims report things and how quickly we as a campus are notified,” he said. “But once we are notified, the notices go out very quickly.”
Tuesday night the university sent out a text around 9:30 p.m. alerting students gun shots had been fired on University Avenue.
“We felt like a little extra measure, especially given the timing of the incident when a lot of people may be coming home from the library or coming home from night classes or something like that, out and about, maybe in that circumstance, the little extra measure given how close it was to the other incident,” he said.