UB changes alert system in wake of student complaints

University will now send out text alerts about bus delays

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Students received something this past Friday they would’ve liked to have also gotten four days prior: a text message warning them of Stampede bus delays.

UB has changed its text message alert system to include alerts about buses running behind schedule, after many students voiced concerns about not being warned of 45-50 minute Stampede delays on Feb. 2. UB sent out a text alert on the morning of Feb. 6 to notify students the buses were delayed 10-20 minutes due to the weather. The UB alert Twitter handle also sent out a tweet alert at 10:18 a.m. Friday.

“We adjusted our alert procedures in response to student concerns,” said UB Spokesperson John Della Contrada in an email. “We will now send UB Alert text and Twitter messages to alert students to changes and delays in essential services during a winter storm or other incident that may affect their health and safety.”

Students have to register to recieve alerts. 18,610 people are signed up for the text alert services. Della Contrada said a high percentage of that number are students. The UB alert Twitter handle has more than 2,300 followers.

Della Contrada said text and twitter is “a good way to provide immediate, real-time information to students as they travel on or to campus.” He also said students, faculty and staff should sign up for the text alerts on the UB alert web page for it to be as effective as possible.

On Feb. 2, during a winter snowstorm, UB only posted an alert about Stampede delays on its UB alert web page at 8:30 a.m. The university did not take advantage of its text messaging alert system though, leaving many students who stood in the long lines at bus loops frustrated.

Joe Jessee, a senior biomedical sciences major, started an online petition for UB to cancel classes if it cannot provide adequate transportation and for UB to alert students of delays through text messaging. The petition got more than 2,900 signatures. He said the petition helped push the university to make changes.

“I think the coverage it got and the number of people who signed it legitimized the call to action,” Jessee said. “They actually made that change surprisingly quick.”

Jessee said in terms of notifying students, the text message alerts are “definitely sufficient.”

“They just need to get the word out about the service so that as many people use it as possible,” Jessee said.

Jessee said himself and other students who signed the petition are hoping for even more change though. He said students strongly believe that classes should be canceled if the bus delays are as extreme as they were on Feb. 2. Jessee hopes his petition and the scrutiny UB received for not closing immediately during the historic lake effect November snowstorm last semester will “get that point across.”

UB relies on its websites, social media, email, phone, television, radio and building coordinators to alert students of large-scale emergencies.

email: news@ubspectrum.com