Text alert fails to reach all students in U of M gun scare

9:00 AM, Nov 13, 2013   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

MINNEAPOLIS - When a man tried to steal a student's laptop at a University of Minnesota lecture hall Monday, more than 68,000 employees and students were warned to seek shelter by an emergency text alert.

Some students are raising concerns after they didn't receive the text warning during the scare.

Junior Matt Stetler proceeded to class without a clue and became worried when he noticed an empty cafeteria. It wasn't until he talked to other students that he realized what had happened.

"I would like to know why I didn't get a text message that someone with a gun was on the West Bank. That's kind of an important thing to do," said Stetler.

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler issued a letter to the U of M campus Tuesday afternoon, saying overall, the system, known as TXT-U, worked well. He urged people to double check and make sure they are signed up.

"We have what is called an Opt Out system, so everyone that has a university email address gets automatically signed up for the TXT-U system," said Lisa Dressler, the U of M's Emergency Management Director.

Dressler pointed to the possibility some students didn't have the phone numbers verified with the new system, which was put in place in May 2012, or others could have been in buildings with spotty cell service.

"It could be potentially because of the cell phone service, but we do have redundant measures in place and we had the web up and running, social media up and running and we hope word of mouth was taking place," said Dressler.

The U of M also put out warnings on its official webpage, Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Dressler says faculty and students received three texts messages, and with each text, more people received the messages as they moved out of the buildings with reduced cell service. Dressler said 68,325 faculty and students received the first text, 68,377 received the second text, and 68,780 received the third text.

Multiple students who work in the Coffman Union bookstore told KARE 11 they didn't receive the text alerts, because there is rarely cell service in the store, which is underground.

"I work at the bookstore and I know in there I never get any kind of service," said Cody Sandberg, a sophomore.

Sandberg said, however, he was luckily at home when he got the text alert before he headed to take his midterm at Anderson Hall, where the lockdown was underway. He also noted word was spreading fast through the U of M's Twitter and Facebook page.

Matt Stetler says his missing alert is still a mystery. He went back to the TXT-U webpage, at the advice of university officials to make sure he gets the next alert.

"It said my number wasn't activated, so I activated it this morning, but it was activated last year so I thought it wouldn't make a difference," said Stetler.

The last TXT-U alert sent by the U of M was in June 2013 during a storm.

After the attempted armed robbery this week, Kaler announced plans to work with the Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau and Mayor elect Betsy Hodges to step up campus safety, with more security cameras, increased foot and bike patrols and student escort programs.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )

Most Watched Videos