How Does the University Protect You?

University Blackboard Website Promotes a Safer Campus

blackboardAfter recent tragedies throughout the United States including school shootings, schools are implementing resources to better protect students and faculty.

The University uses a free system called Blackboard Connect for this type of service. According to the University website, this system is designed to call, leave voicemails, email, and text any student, faculty or staff member who is signed up with their ID number and a registered phone and/or email. The system can also use a backup number such as a student’s parent to notify in case of an emergency.

William McElrath, University Chief of Police, believes the campus is well-trained to respond to emergency situations like an active shooter. The police department is trained on how to respond to such situations and there have been presentations made for students and faculty on what to do if caught in an emergency situation. McElrath said he is “fully supportive” of conducting mandatory drills on campus for students and faculty.

Zachary Diamond, business major, said that for the most part he feels safe while on campus. “When I drive on campus, there’s someone there checking for parking permits. I’ve seen cars without permits get stopped and that made me feel like they were on top of seeing who was coming onto the property,” Diamond said.

Mary Fulco, junior social work major, felt differently. “They might check permits, but not everywhere. Anyone can walk into the buildings on campus during the day without an ID. When I’m in a classroom, I sometimes feel paranoid that if someone were in the building, there wouldn’t be a way to keep them out. The doors can’t be locked,” Fulco said.

Dr. George Kapalka, Chair of the Department of Psychological Counseling, said that he thinks that the University is prepared for an emergency in most cases. “However, any major organization can only prepare for those emergencies that pose at least some real risk. For example, should we have earthquake drills in NJ? Probably not, but in California these should be commonplace,” Kapalka said.

The University also has a website in which recent alerts and notifications can be posted and read for more information. According to the Hawk Safety Alert Listing from the University website, there have been eight recorded alerts listed since January of 2010. Within these reports there is information on burglaries, possible sexual assaults, and other instances on-campus and in the surrounding areas.

Fulco said that many students she knows aren’t aware of the website or signed up for Blackboard Connect.

Eric Macik, junior health studies major, is not signed up for Blackboard Connect. “My house gets a call, but I’m not signed up through my cell. I feel like I’d know if something was going on by word of mouth or social media, so I just don’t think it’s that big of a deal to sign up,” Macik said.

McElrath thinks the system is something that all students should utilize. “Blackboard Connect is a great system and I recommend that everyone participate, as it is our primary way of notifying individuals during an emergency,” McElrath said.

McElrath said that having a backup system is important in the chance that a problem occurs, which is taken into account by the emergency notification policy. “If the Blackboard Connect system was to go down, we could still communicate to everyone through emails, voicemails, electronic signage, police PA systems, and megaphones,” McElrath said.

In regards to making the University campus safer, McElrath said the police outside agencies such as local fire departments and ambulance services as well as the campus community can be trained further and educated about the actions taken during an emergency.

To learn more about Blackboard Connect or to sign up for calls, emails, and text notifications, please visit