Students need reliable technology for emergencies


Editorial Board

The issue:SDSU administration says it would use Jacks e-mail accounts in an emergency situation .

Our view:The Jacks e-mail accounts aren’t used enough and aren’t reliable for crisis use.

School shootings have become more frequent in the last 10 years, but there are specific things about the Virginia Tech shootings that separate it from the rest, like the use of technology.

Nearly two hours after two students were killed in a residence hall, VT students were alerted of the incident by e-mail. As another shooting occurred on the opposite side of campus, students used computers, cell phones and the Internet to swap information and images.

VT administration chose e-mail as the best way to alert students that the campus was on an emergency lockdown. And Vice President Mike Reger said SDSU would use students’ Jacks e-mail accounts in a similar situation.

But are those e-mail accounts the most effective way to notify students of a crisis?

In March, a severe snowstorm forced SDSU to close campus for nearly two days. Students were alerted of the closure through their Jacks accounts, yet most students received the news through local media and word of mouth.

The truth is, a majority of SDSU students haven’t used their Jacks e-mail account since the day they created their Facebook accounts. So why did some SDSU students fight for student e-mail accounts that are barely used?

University e-mail accounts are necessary in this day and age, but it took SDSU so long to jump on the technology bandwagon that students didn’t want to bother with yet another e-mail account.

And when SDSU finally did provide accounts, most students were dissatisfied with the chosen e-mail provider-Hotmail. Hotmail is fine for recreational use, but it’s often unreliable, not user friendly and has weak spam filters. If the university administration wants students to use certain email accounts for emergency contact, the host has to be reliable.

Also, if SDSU plans to use technology in a crisis, it has to be prepared to do so, and that means every inch of the campus must be wireless. It doesn’t make sense to use the Internet as a communication tool if students don’t have access in many places on campus.

In theory, the Jacks e-mail accounts seems like the proper way to notify students, but it has to be something students will rely on and check first for information. Until the student body and the administration can reach an agreement on that, the Jacks accounts remain an insufficient way to alert students in an emergency.