After the recent student death of UNK senior Dan Poly, questions and flaws pertaining to the UNK Alert System have been revealed.

How should this new technology be used, when should it be used, who should use it, how should these messages reach students?

This and many other questions should be thoroughly a addressed before UNK has another communication blunder like they did in the handling of Poly’s death.

There is a place and time for such technology like the UNK Alert System. Communication between students and UNK officials is vital in the event of a crisis of threatening situation. Students need to be kept well-informed when events, like a students death occurs on campus. The commotion caused by Poly’s death, with all the emergency personnel swarming round campus, was witnessed by many students, surely leaving them with an array of questions and uncertainties.

UNK officials had an obligation to inform students of the death and reassure them that the campus was safe. The initial email sent to students was almost totally necessary. The only flaw with the initial email is that UNK officials stated that the unnamed student had died as a result of an “apparent suicide.” Who ever released and or wrote this email broke one of the most sacred rules of Journalism, Public Relations, and Mass Communication as a whole; have your facts right.

The second email, which was almost certainly released after the Poly family was notified, named Poly as the deceased student and  gave some general information. Again, the email reiterated that Poly had died as a result of an “apparent suicide.”

The following morning the Kearney Hub released a story claiming that, after an initial autopsy, Poly’s death was ruled non-self-inflicted by county attorney Shawn Eatheron. The article went on to say that the death was still under investigation by the Kearney Police Department.

Those who did not previously know Poly may now only know him as the UNK student who “apparently,” committed suicide. Here lies the  completely inexcusable mistake by whoever was behind the emails sent out by the UNK Alert System.

Such a powerful tool like the UNK Alert System should be stand as a very wisely utilized tool. Whoever is in charge of using the alert system should be an experienced and trained individual capable of thinking clearly amidst a crisis.

Just because we have such technology doesn’t mean we need to look for reasons to use it. The alert system should be reserved to only in times of where students need to be promptly notified of immediate danger. In a situation where emergency personnel are called to campus, which could cause students to become frightened, the alert system should be used to notify students that there is no present danger.

What is said in these alerts needs to be closely monitored by Chancellor Christensen himself. These messages need to releases only the essential information and leave details which have not been confirmed by professionals out.

There is no room for error when dealing with such sensitive situations like the death of a student. UNK needs to be proactive in their training and have a definite crisis plan in place to avoid these communications glitches .



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