Snow day alert system proves problematic for some

BY TYLER TELESCO

With the inclement weather on Feb. 8 came a wave of text messages from the college, notifying students of class cancellations later that day and causing mixed reactions across the board.

Isaiah Scott, an 18-year-old Engineering major, claimed to have received multiple notifications for the cancelled classes.

“I got four texts, two calls, and three emails [from the college],” he said. Scott said that he lives with his girlfriend, (who also attends the college) and that she had received the same amount of alerts at different times. “[Her and I] had to keep waking up to turn off our phones. We didn’t think they were just going to keep coming.”

This multitude of texts was a common theme found in a survey conducted by the Voice staff on Feb. 18. Of the 30 students interviewed, 21 of them reported having received more than one message from the college. Three students were notified by call only, and five students were not notified at all.

However, Mounir Boufardou, a 24-year-old Engineering major, said that he had received only a single text from the college.

“I responded ‘yes,’ so I think that’s why it didn’t keep sending them,” Boufardou said. Boufardou also “had a friend who received [around] seven messages… but then somebody told him to just respond if he wants to get rid of the alerts.”

According to Dean of Administration Rose Ellis, the texts are sent out through the Everbridge Text System- a program that automatically alerts students in the case of a cancellation. The program is also specifically designed to send recipients multiple texts until they confirm that the message has been received.

“[If] you as a student receive a text message and do not respond, the system will alert you repeatedly until you have confirmed receipt,” Ellis said. “If you do not confirm receipt, the message could be sent up to seven times to you.”

Despite this, the majority of students believed that the alert system is convenient overall, with 19 out of 30 claiming to have been satisfied with receiving an alert over text.

The Everbridge Text System, according to Dean Ellis, has only been used for “five to six years” thus far. It was not very long ago that students and staff at the college would have to go out of their way to find out if classes had been cancelled for the day, according to professor Renae Edge, who has taught humanities courses for over 22 years at the college.

“We got the alerts the same way that and of the other schools got alerts, which was [by listening] to the radio and [watching] the television,” said Edge. “Nobody contacted people individually, because that wasn’t feasible at the time.”

Edge said that several years before the Everbridge Text System, the protocol for snow days was much different, with the final decision on a cancellation being made by the administration at 6 a.m. She claimed that many of her colleagues would wake up very early on snow days to make the commute, and hear on TV that the college was open. Upon arrival, they would often find out that an official cancellation had actually been made at 6 a.m, which directly contradicted the earlier TV reports.

“I like the system that we have now,” said Edge. “I don’t understand why [students] are complaining about it. I’d rather get four messages than none.”

Students are automatically registered to receive alerts from the Everbridge Text System using the info they have already submitted on MyCommnet. Therefore, those without a student ID are unable to receive the texts at all. According to Dean Ellis, those who have student ID’s that wish to re-enable or disable the texts can easily do so using MyCommnet.

“On the MyCommNet Portal, there is a notice requesting students, faculty, and staff to sign up for the system or to opt-out,” said Ellis. “Students have the opportunity to opt-out of the system by going on to the Portal.”

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