Students Question University’s Use of Mass Notification Alerts

RICHMOND, Va.—In an effort to make sure students received an E-mail highlighting the changes to the university’s updated alcohol policies, James Madison University (JMU) officials sent a text message through the university’s emergency alert system. However, students believe JMU is misusing the text alerts.

JMU implemented the system as a result of the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech. The system, which includes text message alerts, has only been used about three or four times to inform students of school closings due to inclement weather – never for non emergency situations, according to

However, officials felt the need to issue a text alert to inform students of the E-mail JMU President Linwood Rose sent to the school’s 19,000 students about the changes in the school’s policy regarding alcohol because they feared students would not see the message.

The new policy is the product of April’s Springfest off-campus block party that resulted in more than 30 arrests and more than 40 injured individuals. New policy changes addressed in the E-mail include alerting parents after a student’s first alcohol offense, placing more law enforcement on and around the campus and sending out a postcard to parents before a student’s 21st birthday to remind them to speak with their child about partying responsibly.

Some students, on the other hand, said that they would be less likely to check text alerts now because they thought the system would be for emergencies only.

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