In the early morning hours of Sunday, Nov. 3, UTSA students, faculty and staff received a notification from the UTSA Alerts System. The alert stated, “An off-campus incident has been reported near Main Campus. Avoid perimeter roads and seek shelter in a safe location.” As you can see, little information was provided pertaining to what the actual emergency was or where it was happening.

First, we must address how UTSAPD gave no information in regards to what alleged crime occurred near the Main Campus. There was no clear indicator of whether there was an assault, a shooting, a robbery or another crime that could pose a possible danger to those residing in the area. For the alert to be effective, it must provide more details about the incident so that those nearby can quickly identify either the suspect or signs related to the reported activity when seeking safe shelter.

The area’s size is also an issue. The Main Campus consists of 104 buildings on 600 acres of land, which is a large area to encompass in an alert. Referencing an area “near Main Campus” is virtually useless unless a specific building or part of campus is mentioned. Additionally, telling people to “avoid perimeter roads” near Main Campus is trivial without referring to a specific street. Perimeter roads could refer to any of the streets bordering campus. Does that mean we should avoid Loop 1604? The lack of a specific location places those in the area in even greater danger because they could end up passing through the place where the incident is occurring when trying to escape.

While this alert may have ultimately failed in getting its message across, there is still time to amend the messaging system, and it needs to happen soon. Keeping people in the dark about a dangerous situation can cause more panic than necessary and place them in more danger. The UTSA Alerts System is meant to be a crucial resource for distributing time-sensitive details about incidents that may jeopardize the safety of UTSA students, faculty and staff; it cannot go to waste by neglecting to include information that could potentially prevent injuries or save lives.

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