On Sept. 8, a timely warning regarding a sexual assault reported on NSU’s main campus was sent via email to the NSU community. However, one student population in particular, student employees, did not all receive this email, which included details about the incident, suspect descriptions, resources and general crime prevention information.
In a poll of 15 student employees conducted by The Current, 11 received this alert. Furthermore, 10 out of 15 student employees believe the NSU Alerts are received inconsistently, stating that they receive messages sometimes, and other times, they either don’t receive them or are received with a significant time delay.
“Multiple times when there were thoughts of a ‘shooter’ or threat near campus, I didn’t receive the emails or it was hours after my friends received them. It is very inconsistent with how it delivers emails to students,” said Blake Lind, a junior psychology major.
According to Larry Massey, director of NSU Public Safety, NSU Alert is a two-pronged effort between NSU Public Safety and the Office of Innovation & Information Technology (OIIT). OIIT provides the technology and Public Safety drafts and sends out the messages the NSU community receives.
For messages like timely warnings, a message can be categorized as either “emergency” or “outreach.” Emergency messages are sent to all students, regardless of whether or not they registered to receive alerts. Outreach messages can be optionally received. When a student registers for NSU Alerts, they can change and update contact information, adjust how they are contacted and opt-out of receiving outreach messages altogether.
The alert sent on Sept. 8 was intended to be sent to the NSU community with a lower priority than emergency status. After the message was sent and concerns about consistency were brought to the attention of Public Safety and OIIT, it was discovered that it was sent as an outreach message, which Massey was not aware had an opt-out option. Public Safety is now aware of this issue and is working on ensuring messages with a lower priority are sent out properly. However, some students believe that this message brought up concerns about the alert system in general.
“I felt it was a little weird that it didn’t reach every student on campus when it was an NSU Alert. After learning that some people simply didn’t receive the message, it makes me wonder what would happen if this was a severe event that can impact every student on campus. I love the idea of NSU Alert, but if it’s not reaching every student, it is a big issue that needs to be fixed,” said Cormac Gilmore, a junior English major.
Larry Lettie, the site administrator for the NSU Alert system portal, explained that there is another potential reason that student employees missed out on this message. At one point in time, the entire NSU community had “@nova.edu” email addresses. A decision was then made for students to have an “@mynsu.nova.edu” address and for employees, staff and other members of the NSU community to continue holding an “@nova.edu” address. It was also decided that work-related emails would take precedence in cases when an individual has both addresses. For student employees, this may mean that these NSU Alerts may be received, but if a student is unaware of their “@nova.edu” address or doesn’t access it frequently, they may not see these alerts.
According to the poll, 13 out of the 15 student employees were aware they had an “@nova.edu” email and of those, 10 stated they do not check their student employee email frequently. Additionally, 14 out of the 15 also felt that their employee email should not take precedence over their regular student emails when it comes to receiving NSU alerts.
“Since students receive so much correspondence through their student emails, no one really checks their employee email. Even at work, I never have documents or meeting details sent to my work email, it’s always my student email,” said Evelyn Casas, a senior biology major.
According to Lettie, members of OIIT are aware of the work-related email precedence and are contemplating if this should remain unchanged. They are also ensuring that updated or preferred contact information provided to the portal is properly integrated into the NSU Alert system.
Students are encouraged to check the NSU Alert System portal to ensure accurate contact information is provided and connect their employee “@nova.edu” email to their student email, if they have not done so already. If students still run into the issue of not receiving NSU Alerts, they are encouraged to reach out to OIIT at email@example.com or 954-262-4357 by phone. They could also reach NSU Public Safety’s NOVALERT hotline at 954-262-8999 for non-emergency and emergency calls.