What is it?
Recent events, such as the Virginia Tech shooting, have made colleges take a hard look at their security practices. One important aspect of security - communication - is regarded as a critical factor when it comes to providing a safe campus environment. In short, in the event of an emergency, people want to know what is going on and what appropriate action should be taken. In order to improve campus safety and provide timely communication to the campus community in the event of an emergency, Callaway Bank and Westminster College have partnered with a company called TextCaster to provide text message-based alerts in the event of a significant campus safety situation. TextCaster's service provides you with the capability to opt-in to receiving emergency alerts from campus officials on your cell phone via a text message. In the event of an emergency, Westminster College officials will send a message through the TextCaster system and the message will appear on your cell phone. Examples of emergencies for which the service could be used include: a possible hostile action or threat on campus, tornado warnings, other severe weather alerts, or a safety situation that has forced the closure of a campus facility.
What is it not?
The Emergency Alerts system is not a general campus notification tool. Westminster College will not be using this system to announce campus events (such as TGIF) or individual class cancellations. Westminster will use this service only for situations deemed serious or critical and that pose an immediate significant threat to the campus community.
What will I receive?
In the event of an emergency, you will receive notification about what is going on as well as instructions on what to do to stay safe. If there is a hostile person on campus, for example, the message may indicate that you should stay in your present location and lock or bar the door.
How much does it cost?
The service itself is free. You do not have to pay anything to sign up. Do be aware, however, that your cellular phone carrier may charge you to receive a text message.
How does it work?
Individuals must first sign up for the service (see instructions below). Once you have signed up, you will receive all emergency notification messages automatically. The service will continue until you opt-out.
Do I have to sign up?
Signing up for the Emergency Alerts service is not required, but is highly recommended. Your information is not shared with anyone else and is used only to provide you with timely notification of emergencies. Westminster College will continue to use traditional mass communication, such as email, to alert you to possible events as well.
Can someone else sign me up for the service?
No. You must sign up on your own. TextCaster uses what is called a "double opt in" process that prevents someone else from signing up for the service on your behalf. When you visit TextCaster's sign up page, you must provide your cell carrier and your cell phone number, along with some other information, such as your name. Once you submit your information, TextCaster sends you a single text message with an authorization code that you must provide on the second page of the sign up process. The ensures that you have provided the correct cell phone number on the sign up page and that you are, in fact, the person requesting the service.
How do I sign up?
To sign up, visit TextCaster's webpage .
Be sure to carefully read the instructions.