When I was in high school, we were alerted whenever anything was wrong. We would have long lockdown drills or evacuations if anything was seriously wrong. Events would be canceled, days would be shortened and our parents would be alerted almost immediately. Most colleges have systems like this in place, including NSU. NSU’s Public Safety has the Novalert system to warn students and faculty if something is wrong on campus; however, it is accompanied by a number of shortcomings.
The Novalert system seriously needs a reboot. There have been numerous occasions where something happened on campus, and there would only be rumors and students asking friends or even Public Safety for any information. Last Monday, there was supposedly an evacuation of the UC. Students had no idea and were walking in and out like nothing was wrong. This isn’t the first time something like this happened either. There was no information reported on it, including from the Novalert system. On Thursday, Jan. 24, the University School and the Mailman Segal Center were on lockdown because of a “suspicious person” nearby. While it was happening, no one knew anything. I was in class during this and we actually stopped class because we didn’t know if we were on lockdown. People in my class said that they had even signed up for the Novalert system and still didn’t get any notification about what was happening.
The fact that the students who have signed up to receive Novalert messages aren’t getting said messages is very concerning. Students have signed up for this system with the expectation that they will be receiving messages from Public Safety when something is wrong on campus. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen. On many occasions, the system sends a message to certain students saying that they are not subscribed to the system, forcing them to sign up again. Besides Novalert, there are also some speakers around campus and in some classrooms. During the shutdown on Jan. 24, the speakers told everyone on campus that there was an “all clear,” but no one got any mention that there was a problem to begin with. Upon calling Public Safety for any information on the problem, students who called the Novalert line were met with something along the lines of “NSU is all clear” and were immediately disconnected.
This is a serious problem. If students don’t know what’s going on on campus it’s not safe. Students can accidentally walk into a building that might be under lockdown because they didn’t know said building was not safe. I’m not saying we need constant updates, but sending out a message to student’s phones or even emails letting them know what’s going on and then another about when it’s safe to resume normal activities would be a serious step up from the broken system we have now.