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Campus alert system under harsh criticism

The College does a good job of dealing with emergencies and keeping students and staff out of danger, despite criticisms on social media. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)
The College does a good job of dealing with emergencies and keeping students and staff out of danger, despite criticisms on social media. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

I woke up at 11:27 a.m. on Monday morning to the buzzing of my cell phone on my nightstand. It wasn’t a message from a friend or an oddly-timed alarm — it was another TCNJ alert.

According to the College’s website, “TCNJ has implemented a text- and voice-messaging emergency-alert system that will be used as one means of providing emergency alerts, timely warnings and informing the College community of major campus shutdowns, such as weather-related closings.”

This text-alert system is certainly a useful tool and has been implemented several times this year to notify students of class cancellations due to snow or emergency situations. But in the midst of these crises, it becomes easy to forget how lucky we are to have this alert system in place.

The @TCNJPROBLEMS Twitter account retweets countless students’ posts regarding emergencies on campus every time an alert is sent out, mostly criticizing the College and its efforts to alleviate any danger.

“Come to TCNJ,” one user wrote. “We have everything ranging from black men in nursing shoes to chemical spills to gas leaks!”

“A few weeks ago, chemical contamination and now there’s a gas leak on campus? Get your shit together,” a student tweeted  on Monday, April 28, shortly after the gas leak was publicized.

“Less than a year at TCNJ and I’ve been exposed to a gas leak, a chemical spill, an intruder, a dorm fire and a dangerous man on a red bike,” another complained.

The College can’t prevent a chemistry student from accidentally exposing herself to the dangerous chemical benzyl bromide, but it can take precautions by notifying students of the threat and securing possible contaminated locations until they are deemed safe by officials.

On that particular day, NBC Philadelphia opted to report on the snarky Tweets posted by students from the College in just as much detail as the actual hazmat situation.

Early morning on November 23, a roof fire broke out in the walkway between Travers and Wolfe. The College responded by evacuating all students and staff from the towers and no injuries were reported.

Something can be said for the many fire drills that students typically take to social media to complain about, since they certainly came in handy when there was a real emergency.

Unless a security guard is stationed at every parking lot, sidewalk and at entrances to every building 24/7 (and let’s be honest — nobody wants that), the College cannot prevent a man wearing nurse’s shoes from sneaking into Travers or a suspected criminal cutting across campus on a red bicycle as he fled from police.

What the College can do is alert students of intruders and quickly work to remove them from campus.

The College cannot prevent a hired construction worker from accidentally striking a gas line, but it can order evacuations and send out text alerts to students and staff so that in case something terrible does happen, everybody remains safe.

Accidents happen, but it’s how the College responds to them that matters. And so far, it has responded very well.

Instead of complaining when things occasionally go astray, focus on all that the College has accomplished this year.

Students should not take these emergency text alerts as a joke, and we should all appreciate how much effort the College puts into keeping us safe.


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