Wow, what a day. More than 50,000 people were affected by one person today – and that’s only a number reflecting those on our campus. Family and friends of Longhorns are almost innumerable.
When I woke up this morning at around 9:00 am, I heard my cousin/roommate rustling around getting ready for class like she does every Tuesday and Thursday. I usually wake up when she’s getting ready and fall back asleep once she’s gone, but today I heard her on the phone with her mom and the first thing I heard my aunt say was “Are you okay?”. This piqued my interest, even in my groggy state. At first I thought she might be asking about my cousin’s health because she had been a bit under the weather, but then I heard my cousin say something about how her mom didn’t need to worry because she wasn’t planning on going to campus, etc. My first thought was that there must have been some stormy weather that had taken a turn for the worse outside. When I dragged myself out of my sleepy state and asked her what was going on, the first words out of her mouth were “Foram, there’s a shooter on campus.” My heart stopped.
My first thought was to check my email because surely the university had sent out an emergency email since we get emails for just about everything. To my surprise and confusion, I didn’t have anything. My cousin told me she had received the emergency text alerts and when I looked later, I realized the reason I hadn’t gotten a text was because my phone number hadn’t been updated on the site. Still, where was the email?!
We turned on the radio to find out the latest news and learned that some guy had shot 10 rounds of shots from an AK-47 rifle and then gone up to the 6th floor of the PCL and shot himself. Wow.
Once I started talking to people, I was told that an email had been sent out by the VP of Operations almost immediately after the incident had occurred. So, why hadn’t I gotten one? I checked my spam and trash folders – nothing. Slowly, I started hearing from others that they hadn’t gotten an email either.
The day progressed and I updated my phone number for the emergency text alerts. Immediately I got 2 texts, but that was it for the rest of the day. My cousin’s phone was going off over and over every time there was a development and I still had nothing. Where was the email? Where were my texts? The thoughts started taking over: would I have been completely clueless this morning about what was going on had my cousin not found out before she, herself, went to class? If she hadn’t been the one to tell me, I wouldn’t have known save for word of mouth. I, like many people I know, check my email first thing in the morning on my phone. I don’t check my Facebook – where status updates about the shooting were already taking over my news feed.
It was amazing that UT utilized the text alerts and Twitter to notify so many people, but still it boggles my mind: why did only some people get an email and not others? Why did I only get some text alerts and not others? What’s more, an email from President Powers didn’t come until 9:53 am – some 2 hours after the incident.
Lastly, it was disconcerting that when the situation was under control and the lockdown was lifted after it was decided that there was no 2nd suspect – I still didn’t get an email and it was the same with others. After taking a nap, I woke to realize that students had been released but no word about whether the 2nd guy had been caught. I got a call from my dad asking about an update, but I, myself, didn’t know. It was’t until I went to CNN.com to find out that a 2nd suspect hadn’t truly existed and all was seemingly well on campus. Why hadn’t there been a formal email sent out about this? And if there had – once again – why had only some received it?
One thing that was truly amazing about today was the quick response officials had to the situation. The campus was put under lockdown immediately and an effort to notify all students and faculty/staff was also prompt. It was very fortunate that we were spared a worse tragedy, and that officials were so thorough and effective in their attempt to secure the campus from further threat. Kudos to those who help make us feel safe everyday, including today.
The only thing that still nags at me is that there are clearly a few holes in the communication system. Sure, we can expect word-of-mouth and social media to be the speediest forms of communication in today’s age, but I still find it unacceptable that messages from the university were only received by a portion of students. In situation like today’s, I would personally want to hear news straight from the school and not from another student because we all know how notorious the “He said/she saids” are for convoluted messages. It’s just something that needs to be looked into pronto and fixed.
Once again, what a day…We’re really the lucky ones.