Jeff McCracken, chief of police and director of the Department of Public Safety, said he is not worried about overloading the students with information.
“I think we’re much better off having a campus that is more aware of what’s going on campus and in the areas immediately surrounding the campus than we would be if they were not informed,” he said.
The Alert Carolina system sends out messages that fall under four categories: emergency, timely notifications, informational notifications and adverse weather.
Emergency and timely notifications deal with instances that present a threat to life or the occurrence of a serious crime, like homicide or aggravated assault, McCracken said. Within the past year, DPS has issued three emergency alerts and 11 timely notifications.
The informational notifications, typically sent via email, were added at the request of the community for more information about events on campus.
In December 2012, UNC Student Congress passed a resolution that would identify any gunman within a mile of campus as an Alert Carolina emergency. The move came in response to student reports that they were not receiving alerts in a timely fashion.
McCracken said Alert Carolina’s communication policy is reviewed constantly. The policies were put in place in 2011 and then revised in 2013.
Rukmini Deva, a sophomore at UNC, said she believes the current system is effective in reaching students, even if the content does not always feel pertinent. She said she always reads every alert she receives through text, but usually ignores the longer email messages.
“Based on what I’ve heard, most people are satisfied with it because it’s very fast and efficient and simple,” Deva said.
Still, UNC junior Taylor Capito admitted she is more inclined to pay attention to alerts that feel relevant to her.
“I do briefly glance at every single text — not necessarily the email, but every single text I get from Alert Carolina. But I really only care about them if they’re about the weather — more specifically if it gets me out of class,” Capito said.
UNC also uses the Rave Guardian Campus Safety App to keep students informed. Scott McGrath, a public safety solutions architect at Rave Mobile Safety, said the issue of when to communicate is inherent to all.
“Every institution has to wrestle with these issues,” he said. “Each of the institutions has to come up with the right policies, the right methodology for their community.”