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MU Alert test encourages student involvement

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With a test coming Thursday of MU Alert, Marshall University encourages more students to join the service.

MU Alert is Marshall’s most direct method of communicating with students in the event of an emergency, and while the service is optional, the university wants as many students as possible to sign up for it. MU Alert sends text messages to everyone signed up with the service within minutes of an emergency, giving people important information for their own safety.

Chief Jim Terry, director of the Marshall University Police Department, said MU Alert originated from policies started by the Clery Act in 1990, an act that requires universities to disclose crime records. However, MU Alert has since expanded to include reports of campus closings and inclement weather reports, most prominent in winter.

“MU Alert goes out for emergencies that affect life and property,” Terry said.

Terry also said Marshall tries to get MU Alerts out as quickly as possible, and he said it is usually successful in lessening the impact of inclement weather on students.

“During dangerous weather, we try to get that out before people leave their homes,” Terry said.

Leah Payne, the director of communications for Marshall, said she agreed MU Alert was usually successful.

“We can blanket the campus community very quickly in the event of an emergency,” Payne said.

Payne also said it is important to Marshall that MU Alert is only used for true emergencies.

“MU Alert is the primary system that we use for safety and weather alerts,” Payne said. “We are diligent about not using it for minor inconveniences. We don’t want students to ignore it.”

MU Alert is free to join. Anyone can sign up by logging into myMU and entering their information into the MU Alert system. Payne said students should join before the campus-wide test Thursday.

“The best way to improve MU Alert is to get more people to participate in it,” Payne said.

This will be the only test this semester, as MU Alert is tested once toward the beginning of every semester.

MU Alert is not the only system Marshall has to deal with emergencies. The MUPD also provides an escort service for students who are uncomfortable traveling alone, as well as providing more than 30 free to use phones on campus for students if they have an emergency or require assistance.

Sam Phillips can be contacted at [email protected]

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