Public messaging system tested at KU

Alarm comments

Kansas University is asking for feedback on the public address system test it conducted Thursday afternoon. Anyone who was on the KU campus at 12:30 p.m. is asked to visit evaluation2 and fill out the survey.

A test of Kansas University’s public messaging system Thursday worked for some and not for others.

Dan Pierron, a KU senior who was on the main floor of the Kansas Union in the Student Involvement and Leadership Center, didn’t hear the message.

“It is disconcerting that they’ve apparently made all these changes and they have all these protocols in place that are supposed to alert us, but I’ve never felt unsafe,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nancy Hamilton, assistant professor of psychology, said she clearly could hear the alarm from her fourth-floor office in Fraser Hall.

“It’s nice to know it works,” she said.

The public-address speakers tested Thursday are just one of several components of KU’s alert system. The speakers cover about 63 percent of campus and will cover about 70 percent when planned expansions are completed.

Other components of the system include text messaging, e-mails and voice mails.

“We’re also adding speakers to other floors of buildings, and I know that we’re looking at adding to the other floors in the union to make sure that as many people can hear it as possible,” KU spokeswoman Jill Jess said. “This was a test of just one piece of the system. In an actual situation, we would have sent out a text message as well; we would have sent out an e-mail as well.”

Appropriately, the Kansas Board of Regents spent the first half hour of its meeting Thursday discussing campus safety plans for each of the six state universities and particularly the notification methods available on each campus.

Regent Jill Docking asked the university presidents what portion of their students had signed up for emergency text messaging and found a variety of answers.

At Fort Hays State University, 70 percent of the student body has signed up for emergency messages. On KU’s Lawrence campus with about 30,000 students and employees, 13,000 had signed up for such messages.

The discussion also explored how the universities implemented concealed-carry policies and provided mental health services on campus.

Regents CEO Reggie Robinson said a security consultant whom the board decided to hire earlier this year could look at both of those issues when performing an overall review of campus safety plans. They are still looking for a consultant.