Use WSU alert system more frequently

Alerts keep students aware of dangers on campus, ineffective when unused to warn of potential threats



Student safety is a top priority at WSU, alerts being sent out to students via phone calls or text messages in case of an emergency. Threat legitimacy isn’t easily determined, but even potential dangers warrant an alert or a status report of some kind.

ALIVIA HILLER, Evergreen columnist

The WSU alert system helps most students at WSU to be aware of threats, but it is not used frequently enough in cases where there’s just a potential danger.

WSU should use this system during, not after, incidents where students anywhere near campus may be in danger.

Mass shootings, especially in schools and campuses around the U.S. have become more prominent in the past few years. As major incidents happen more frequently, WSU should be able to react on even rumors of one.

In the 2010-11 school year, there were about 12 college shootings. In the 2015-16 school year, the number of college shootings reached 30. Between those years there were about 190 incidents in total, with 437 total victims, according to a study by the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City.

Some may think having a more responsive system would create unnecessary panic, as many threats don’t lead to anything. But it’s better to be safe than sorry. Steve Hansen, assistant chief of the WSU police department, knows that not all reports are correct, but ensures each is treated seriously.

“I can’t say, for example, that for a bomb threat we will respond a certain way each time,” Hansen said. “[We] will evaluate the threat and make a determination on the credibility of the threat and go from there.”

Campus police do its best to handle each threat, but if there’s a danger of any kind on campus, students should know about it. Alerting students is a tough part of the job, as it’s hard to know which calls qualify as real threats. But even if the call is fake or has missing information, alerting students of the risk leaves them better prepared to act, should the situation worsen.

“[An alert is sent] when we determine there is a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to health and safety of students or employees occurring on the campus,” Hansen said.

Our officers are good, but they can’t always be where they need to. While they do their best to keep threats under control, their jurisdiction covers only our campus.

These situations are difficult and potentially dangerous, which is why our alert system needs to be more actively used to keep students out of the area of an incident. The area that these alerts cover should also be expanded into areas like Greek row and primarily student housing to keep WSU students safe.

When potential threats are located off campus, or even on Greek row, as happened just a few weeks ago, the alert system isn’t used.

There were rumors of a shooter on Greek row, yet students were left with no information as to what was going on except for hear-say from one another. That information kept people indoors, away from the area and allowed officers to deal with the situation.

Students, on and off campus, need to know when a potential threat is in the area and need to get as much information as possible on the risk that it poses to them. People know how to protect themselves, they just need to know when to do it.