Springfield College has offered the free services of SC Alert to its students since the summer of 2007. In the wake of the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech of that year, SC administrators knew that being able to communicate with students and faculty in an effective and timely manner would be vital. Campus and students were changing, and in the age of text messaging and social networking, the installation of SC Alert came across as a very valuable tool for campus-wide communication.
Five years since its installation at Springfield College, SC Alert looks to be evolving into an even more accessible tool. Currently, SC Alert works as a text message system that instantly relays important or emergency information to students and faculty campus-wide. With the pressing of a button, it was possible for information regarding the 2011 Living Center gas leak, 2011 Springfield tornado and the ensuing hurricane/tropical storm to spread across the Springfield College community like wild fire.
Aside from weather alerts, class cancellations and emergency warnings, Springfield College Vice President of Administration and Finance John Mailhot says SC Alert is in the process of evolving into a new tool for students. Mailhot says the free services of SC Alert are not utilized by enough students at this point.
“The challenge with SC Alert is that we have a significant amount of students who haven’t signed up for it because with social networking, the information spreads so quickly,” said Mailhot.
Springfield College senior Zach O’Leary says he stopped using SC Alert after his freshman year.
“I never re-signed up for SC Alert because word spreads so quickly around campus and I would receive text messages from school during the summer when I wasn’t even there,” said O’Leary.
Mailhot says SC Alert is looking to offer students more information in the future regarding campus events. The future SC Alert system looks to offer students the option to choose which categories of information they would like to receive to their phones. The current SC Alert sends information to every person who is signed up, and this becomes an issue if everyone is not interested in a specific sporting event or other campus event.
Springfield senior Doug Nickerson says he approves of the new idea.
“I think it’s a great idea. The new SC Alert would be a great way for students to stay up-to-date on campus information and events that they are interested in,” said Nickerson.
“We are in the process of talking about expanding the functionality of the system,” said Mailhot.
“For example, we would really like for SC Alert to only reach the phones of Living Center students if there is a gas leak in their building: the rest of the campus doesn’t really need to get that alert.”
“We definitely don’t want to overuse SC Alert because when students get a message, we want them to take it very seriously,” said Mailhot. “In the future, we would like to have separate user groups within the system that would allow for alerts to only reach the people on campus that they pertain to.”
Springfield College hopes to upgrade the SC Alert system by the end of the semester or over the summer, says Mailhot. According to Mailhot, the upgrading is still at the planning phase, but SC Alert is on track to becoming a very important and widely used communication resource on campus.