University of Virginia Updates Its Emergency SMS Text Policy

UVA students, faculty, and staff members will now automatically be enrolled in the school’s emergency text messaging system.

University of Virginia Updates Its Emergency SMS Text Policy

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The University of Virginia (UVA) announced last week that it has begun automatically enrolling its students, faculty, and staff members in its UVA Alerts text messaging program.

Starting this past weekend, anyone who had not previously provided a cell phone number to receive UVA emergency notifications via text will be enrolled if they provided a mobile phone number during orientation or onboarding, reports UVA Today.

The goal of the policy change is to increase the number of campus community members receiving alerts via text messages.

Campus Safety has found that many public safety, security, and emergency management officials believe automatic text alert enrollment is one of the most effective ways to ensure students, faculty, and other employees receive campus emergency notifications. That’s because community members often don’t check their emails or take a long time to do so, but quickly review the text messages they receive.

Nationwide, half of colleges and universities automatically enroll their community members in campus text alert programs, according to the 2023 Campus Safety Emergency Notification Survey. Additionally, 21% of respondents whose campuses have auto-enrollment don’t allow their community members to opt out.

However, UVA students, faculty, and staff members who do not want to be enrolled in the school’s text alert program will be allowed to opt out of the program if that is what they want.

It’s important to note that text messaging systems also have their limitations. It’s considered a best practice for campuses to use multiple emergency notification systems in addition to SMS alerts, such as digital signage, public address systems, voice evac, and more.

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About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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