Roanoke College tests Maroon Alerts messaging system

SALEM, Va.-On Thursday, October 4, Roanoke College conducted a test of the college's emergency notification system. The test included a Maroon Alert text message and e-mail, a web posting at www.roanoke.edu/emergency and an all-campus e-mail. The test was conducted during the lunch hour in an effort to minimize any potential disruption to classes.

The Maroon Alert system is an opt-in system requiring students, faculty and staff to sign up for the service. Prior to the test, 1,450 people had subscribed to Maroon Alerts, with about 1,170 of those signing up to receive the text messages. Since the test, another 50 people have subscribed to the service, bringing the total number of subscribers to 1,500. Roanoke College has 2,000 students and approximately 400 faculty and staff.

The college's Helpdesk did report a few calls from people who thought they had signed up but did not receive the text message. Service can vary depending on the cell provider used by individuals. Overall, the number of people who did not receive the alert was minimal. The emergency information webpage was viewed 101 times during the test.

"I am pleased with the result of our test," Tom Turner, director of campus safety, said. "We would still like to see more people sign up but we are encouraged to know the system worked. This gives us another method of communicating with our campus community which is our ultimate goal." Turner sent the test message himself, along with an e-mail to all students, faculty and staff.

Roanoke College will use Maroon Alerts to notify subscribers of any schedule changes related to inclement weather. It is expected this use of Maroon Alerts will provide additional opportunities to test and improve the system.