Published Tue, Feb 5, 2013 6:01 pm Dateline
Many Ohio University students were left in the dark last week, as the campus shut down Wednesday over concerns of an armed fugitive who allegedly robbed a woman at gunpoint at an Athens apartment complex.
Campus administrators issued emergency text and e-mail alerts to students and staff Wednesday that notified them of the armed robber and campus closure, but some students didn't get the memo.
Isabella Karamol, an OU freshman student, said she did not receive the university's e-mail notification of the campus closure until 3 p.m. Wednesday, nearly three hours after OU President Roderick McDavis first made the announcement.
As word of the incident spread on Twitter and Facebook accounts, many students who did not receive e-mail or text alerts said they had to rely on news and updates from their friends.
A spokesperson for Ohio University's Environmental Health & Safety Department said the reason they use text message alert methods is because e-mail just takes too much time.
"If we use email, there's 26 thousand names in that email database," said Joe Adams, Associate Vice President of Environmental Health and Safety. "If it takes 10 seconds for each email to go out, you can quickly calculate, if you're at the end of that, how many hours you're going to be down the line before you get your email."
While the text message alerts are received much quicker than e-mail alerts, only 80 percent of registered students on OU's Athens campus are signed up for the emergency alert system, which left about 5,000 students out of the loop on Wednesday.
The university tests its alert system several times throughout school year, and conducted its most recent test just five days before the campus closed as a result of the incident.
Jill Harris, OU's emergency program manager, said that OU safety personnel are notified about the number of failed calls after each test is complete, and then they proceed to contact the owner of that number to fix the problem.
Harris advised students and staff to check online if their number is included in the emergency alert system to avoid glitches in the future.