Richmond, Va.
Thursday, April 17, 2014

VCU Alert empowers community to keep safe

Friday, Oct. 11, 2013

If you’ve been expecting VCU Alert text messages but aren’t receiving them, there likely is an easy explanation with a simple fix.

According to VCU Chief Information Officer Alex Henson, failure to respond to a renewal notice is the single biggest reason that people fail to receive alerts when expected. Other reasons include declining or incorrectly completing the initial sign-up process, or in some very rare cases, users have mobile phone plans that do not deliver the alerts.

“Every single instance that we’ve been notified that someone didn’t get a text it was that they hadn’t registered, hadn’t renewed or had a carrier issue,” Henson said. “So if you signed up, you should be getting them.”

Alert subscriptions easily can be updated or modified through the myVCU Portal home screen, which includes an “Emergency Contact” box on the right side. By clicking that dropdown menu, any member of the VCU community can update their information to ensure they receive these important notifications.

If anyone has problems updating or still doesn’t receive messages, Henson says “they can just call the VCU helpIT Center or email the VCU helpIT Center and we will make sure it happens as soon as possible.”

New students at VCU are prompted to enroll or decline participation in VCU Alerts when they log into the university’s Central Authentication Service, which allows access to email and other services. Some upperclassmen, faculty and staff must enroll themselves through a simple process. Newer subscriptions will last until the user unsubscribes, but those who signed up under the older system may still receive a renewal prompt that requires a reply. Those who decline to participate will be prompted annually to consider enrolling.

The myVCU Portal also allows students to update their emergency contact information to ensure parents, guardians or other designees can be notified in the event of an emergency. Starting the week of Oct. 7, students who have not entered emergency contact information will be temporarily blocked from registering for classes until they update the information.

According to Henson, once a student updates their information, “the minute they do it it’s lifted. It’s instantaneous.”

VCU and the VCU Police Department are committed to promoting a safe learning, living and work environment on campus. Part of this commitment is giving members of the VCU community the information they need to keep themselves safe. Alert messages are crafted as quickly as possible and are often based on preliminary reports, but every effort is made to ensure alerts are informative, useful and timely. According to the VCU Police Department’s most recent survey, more than three-quarters of the VCU community says VCU Alerts make them feel safer on campus.

“A critical part of our policing philosophy involves informing members of the community of crimes that occur on and near the VCU campus,” said VCU Police Chief John Venuti. “When community members have this information, it allows them to make informed decisions regarding their personal safety.”

The VCU Alert system is one of Virginia higher education’s most robust, with safety and crime information distributed by text message, classroom beacons, email alerts, social media, web postings, digital signage, sirens and other means. The university meets or exceeds all notification requirements under the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1988.

The  text messaging system is one of the most popular and important alert services for members of the VCU community. If an event occurs that could pose an ongoing threat to the safety of the VCU campus community, the VCU Police Department immediately sends important information to the more than 36,000 registered users of the service, sharing the information needed for those near campus to keep themselves safe.

For more information on VCU’s alerting methods and policies, as well as information on safety and preparedness in emergencies, visit www.alert.vcu.edu.

 

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