ENMU implements new safety plan

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

With advances in technology, Eastern New Mexico University has implemented a plan to alert students, faculty, staff and parents of emergencies and weather-related activities that affect the welfare of the campus.

The effort to update emergency procedures, in particular communication came about in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings earlier this year, according to university officials.

Through an outside company, designated ENMU personnel are able to access a system that allows them to send a text message to those who have registered for the emergency alert system, according to Ronnie Birdsong, vice president of university relations and enrollment services.

“It gives you a little more of an opportunity to get the message out if it’s hosted elsewhere,” Birdsong said.

Currently, information is relayed via the ENMU Web site, the information line, e-mail and voice mail, Birdsong said.

“Of course, none of those would really work if they (students) were in a gym or classroom,” Birdsong said.

Research indicated many students preferred to be contacted via a text message in the event of an emergency, said Clark Elswick, director of information and technology services.

Students, teachers and parents can register for the emergency system on ENMU’s Web site, Elswick said.

“The solution allows the individual to put in two cell phone numbers that are capable of text messaging and two e-mail addresses,” Elswick said.

A recent test of 277 registered users was successful, said Betsy Chavez, information coordinator at ENMU.

The system will also be used to send out weather alerts, closures and delays, Birdsong said.

At Thursday’s regents meetings Birdsong and other administration officials presented the updated emergency procedures plan.

“We feel like we’re pretty well covered on the communications portion of this,” Birdsong told regents. “To me this (communications) was the portion that the faculty and staff was most interested in seeing.”