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RIT on TV News: RIT Alert

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Published on Mar 18, 2010

WROC-TV (Channel 8) reports on the impact of Rochester Institute of Technology's emergency communication system in the wake of a potentially dangerous situation on campus.

It had all the ingredients of a recipe for disaster.

"An individual was suicidal potentially armed on the eastside of the R.I.T. campus," explained University News Director Paul Stella.

Close to 17,000 students living on campus went unharmed during the overnight incident.

"Everybody took the appropriate action to make sure that things didn't get out of control. "

Stella credits the campus alert system for keeping students informed. The alert system alerts students campus wide in a matter of minutes using email, phone call or text message. Students say they feel safer knowing the system is in place.

"It was scary, but I'm happy that I signed up for the alert system so that I knew what was going on," said student Felicia Backenroth.

"A lot of kids joke about it but it's a good system and it puts the information out there," said sophomore Eitan Check.

"It was really nice getting the alert because they called and texted you telling you that there was an alert."

A plus for Lorenzo Webber but something officials are looking into more closely. "There have been some concerns in terms of message redundancy and things that have popped up as a result of this incidence," said Stella.

That includes the language used in the text alert. It read as follows: Take cover. Possible Armed Suicidal Person on campus. Go into nearest room. Lock or barricade the door.

"It was definitely fight or flight mode for me. I was nervous I didn't know what to do."

"There's not time to craft the message as the case when you have more time to react to the situation," said Stella.

Still, students feel safe on campus overall. "Nobody I've known has ever gotten hurt or in trouble on campus."

"Nothing like this has happened since I've been here so yea I'd say it's pretty safe."

Students aren't required to sign up. They have to opt into the emergency alert system. After the early morning threat, Stella says they may look into making the sign-up mandatory.

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