Western Herald – WMU Alert robocall system was down during robbery on campus last night
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WMU Alert robocall system was down during robbery on campus last night

Erin Gignac
Editor-in-Chief

After last night’s robbery outside Bigelow Hall and Parking Services, students were notified of the incident through Western Michigan University’s robocall service called WMU Alert.

Or not.

“It appeared from our end that not a single message was going out,” Cam Vossen, emergency management administrator for WMU Department of Public Safety, said.”There may have been a network problem. Please understand we’re still trying to figure it out.”

The WMU Alert system puts out 4,000 phone calls per minute.

“The telecommunication systems are made to handle an average amount of calls,” Vossen said. “They’re not made to handle bursts.”

Two waves of phone calls were sent out to students, one around 10:40 p.m. and one around 11:40 p.m.

“Once we were assured that then network issue was resolved we put it out again,” Vossen said.

Most students found out about the incident on small media like Twitter and Facebook. One of the first tweets with the hashtag #WMU involving the incident was at 11:33 p.m. The robbery occured at 10:07 p.m. and police were on the scene at 10:15 p.m.

Didn’t get a call? Students have to register on their GoWMU homepage to even receive the call from WMU Alert. Click on the big triangle and register your phone number.

“People have to register to receive,” Vossen said. “It takes about three seconds to do it.”

Cheryl Roland, executive director of University Relations, said students who witness suspicious activity should report it.

“If people did witness it, they truly should call public safety at 387-5555,” Roland said. “Sharing information like that can help our police officers find the perpetrators.”

The suspects are still at large and escaped on foot, according to the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office.

Roland said she learned about the incident around 11:20 p.m.

“We had a message on the University home page,” she said. “I know the reverse 911 call was in progress. At least some of the calls didn’t go through as promptly as possible.”

Students can call the campus escort service at 387-RIDE if they need a ride at night. If they ever have trouble reaching that line, WMU Department of Public Safety also offers that service at (269) 387-5555.

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About ErinGignac

Erin Gignac is the editor in chief of the Western Herald. She is a senior with a double major in journalism and American public policy at Western Michigan University. Email her at herald-editor@wmich.edu

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