To the UT Dallas family:
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Virginia Tech community as its members face an unimaginable burden of shock and grief in the wake of the tragic events of April 16, 2007. We are saddened and troubled by the waste of human potential in this senseless act of violence, and many of us find ourselves looking for explanation or reason where none exists.
No one can anticipate when and how such situations may develop. There is no formula for responding to the unimaginable. But we can and do continuously examine our own security procedures and share information. In that spirit, I want to respond to the questions many of you have asked about preparedness for emergencies on our own campus.
In the event of an emergency, we have a number of channels of communication available to us that will allow swift, accurate communication with faculty, staff and students. They include:
- An e-mail channel that, when activated, would send a priority electronic message to every e-mail box on campus. This is separate from our “bounce” system, and cannot be filtered or blocked by the recipient.
- A reverse 911 system that allows voice mail broadcast to every hard-wired telephone on campus.
- An advisory telephone number that was recently created in anticipation of any event that might require the closure of campus. This number carries an announcement regarding campus operations at all times, and would be used to advise of any campus closure. You are encouraged to try it out at 972-883-7669, and to add this number to your cell phone’s directory.
- Mobile Campus, a service the university and Student Government are involved in implementing. Mobile Campus enables text messages to be sent to cell phones of every member of the campus community that has opted into the service. For more information about this service, click on www.mobilecampus.com. To opt into the service, go to www.mobilecampus.com/universitySites.aspx, and click on “University of Texas at Dallas.”
- And, of course, emergency information would be posted on the UT Dallas Web site home page, www.utdallas.edu.
Beyond communication, the university has mechanisms in place to deal with emergencies. Among these are:
- Plans to “shelter in place,” or lockdown, affected facilities.
- A 50-member response team of university personnel who have been trained to assist in the evacuation of buildings.
- Mutual aid pacts with the City of Richardson Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety and other area law enforcement agencies, with whom we have prearranged plans regarding rapid response to campus emergencies. Our own police force, which is sworn and fully certified, has received training specifically for emergency response.
No one is immune to crisis. The university has taken a prudent, comprehensive approach to anticipating emergencies, laying groundwork and committing resources to deal with whatever may arise.
We live in turbulent times. As we go about our business, we must stay aware and alert to the possibility of an emergency. But we can’t and won’t let fear prevent us from pursuing our mission of teaching and learning and advancing knowledge.
David E. Daniel
Updated: February 20, 2009