What a semester it has been so far! The TWU Pioneer Alert system, a technology that allows students, faculty and staff on each campus to receive emergency information and updates on their mobile devices, has been busy sending out signals since this spring semester began. I am subscribed to all three locations, including Houston.
In January we had alerts letting us know that the Denton and Dallas locations were closed due to ice and snow. Each day, as the storm progressed and the coldest of cold weather set in we checked for the latest from DPS (Department of Public Safety) on the status. TWU D and D closed for an unprescedented 4-5 days while the weather raged. Even the Houston campus closed on Friday and Saturday as the storm plunged southward.
Pioneer Alert was on duty again yesterday as the Denton campus was placed on lock-down! This was a totally new experience for most of us. The message instructed us to “remain inside until notified by police…do not call DPS except in an emergency.” We had no idea why the lockdown. Many turned to the internet or radio for information — much of which was, unfortunately, inaccurate. The campus had an eerie look and feel as there was no one moving about outside — except, of course, when the TV trucks began arriving.
About two hours after the initial alert, our Marketing and Communications department issued this statement — “
THE TEXAS WOMAN¹S UNIVERSITY DENTON CAMPUS WENT INTO LOCKDOWN AT 9:40 A.M. TUESDAY, MARCH 1 AFTER A MALE STUDENT MADE VERBAL THREATS DURING A CLASS.
AFTER THE STUDENT LEFT, THE INSTRUCTOR DISMISSED THE CLASS AND NOTIFIED THE TWU DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY. THE TWU DPS IMMEDIATELY ISSUED THE LOCKDOWN ALERT TO THE CAMPUS AS A PRECAUTION.
NO ONE ON CAMPUS HAS BEEN HARMED. POLICE ARE SEARCHING FOR THE STUDENT.
MORE INFORMATION WILL BE POSTED AS IT BECOMES AVAILABLE. MEANWHILE, TWU STUDENTS, FACULTY AND STAFF SHOULD REMAIN INDOORS AND THOSE NOT ON CAMPUS SHOULD STAY AWAY.
About 2 hours after that Pioneer Alert let us know that “The emergency no longer exists on the Denton campus. Return to normal activities.”
Return to normal activities? Hmmm….. wonder how we do that given that the reports via other media had ranged from “gunman on campus” to “the suspect has terrorist ties.” shortly after that, we were given the all clear and learned that the student in question had been arrested.
The TWU DPS and Marketing department handled the event in a very professional manner and we are all grateful that no one was hurt and that we were all protected. But these occasions do cause one to pause.
After the weather shut down, the mood on campus the following week was one of near panic as faculty worried about how to make up ground with class assignments and students fretted about how they could cram enough to take those required tests. Extracurricular events had to be re-scheduled, administrative meetings doubled up and production schedules pushed back. While this lock-down will have less impact on our activities and planning, the eerie feelings and fear of the unknown are a different kind of obstacle and will likely remain with us for a long time.