Photo credit: UC Santa Cruz

Colleges around the nation use technology to ensure campus safety

If you are wondering what that random, unknown text message sent to your phone on Friday, May 1, 2009 was, look no further.

In the wake of the tragic Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, UC Santa Cruz is among college campuses nationwide that have implemented an emergency cell phone alert system in the past two years.

CruzAlert, a cell phone alert system, allows for critical and emergency information to be “rapidly distributed via telephone, cell phone, text messaging and e-mail in the event of a major campus emergency,” as outlined in a April 16th UCSC administration notice concerning CruzAlert.

According to the UCSC website, the on-scene police or fire department will determine if a situation warrants a CruzAlert message.

The university assures students that CruzAlert will only be used in states of emergency and for sporadic routine testing. No messages concerning other campus concerns, or university marketing, will be sent using the CruzAlert system.

The e-mail, sent to the UCSC community on April 16th, which marked the second anniversary of Virginia Tech shootings, encouraged students to sign up for the CruzAlert system.

It also stated that on Friday, May 1, 2009, the campus conducted a test of the CruzAlert system. E-mails and texts were sent to the student body as a test of the technological safety system.

The Virginia Tech school administration was criticized for a two-hour delay in notifying the student body of the attacks. Due to a delay in alerting the campus after the initial shootings, the gunman was able to kill 30 people in a building across campus. CruzAlert hopes to ensure the safety and security in such events.

California’s plan for a state-wide system of emergency alert systems was condoned by California Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi.

“This system would save lives should a Virginia Tech situation occur at one of our California campuses,” Garamendi said in a statement issued by the Associated Press.

To sign up for CruzAlert, go to and follow the simple instructions.