UH students need a more efficient warning system
As a student at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, I'm concerned about the emergency warning system maintained by the university. Specifically, I did not learn of the Oct. 25 threat to kill 30 UH-Manoa students until I checked my campus e-mail at around 5 p.m. -- several hours after the threat and prior to the man's capture. Although I attended classes all day, I knew nothing about the threat until I checked my campus e-mail. Had I been aware, I would have opted to leave the campus rather than risk injury or death.
There are glaring problems with the present (and proposed) UH-Manoa campus emergency warning system. The text-messaging warning system, which the campus intends to institute, is ineffective as a thorough, timely or cost-effective warning device because it does not reach all students. Students are prohibited from using cell phones during class and most students are either on a fixed budget and simply cannot afford the expense of text-messaging or, like me, have never used text-messaging as a communication device. In fact, according to National Public Radio, on those campuses already utilizing the text-messaging system, less than half of the student body has signed up to participate , and for the same reasons outlined above. Campus authorities need to understand that where risk of serious harm or death is concerned, students prefer a fail-safe warning system to a "cool" electronic device and most certainly want to be alerted immediately to a potential danger.
With respect to the e-mail warning utilized by UH-Manoa authorities after learning of the threat on Oct. 25, it, too, was ineffective. Students have only 15 minutes to move across campus between classes and for most students it is not possible to check e-mail until the end of the school day. Therefore, it is fair to say that the majority of students had no warning. Although the campus has audible warning devices available, campus authorities did not use them and instead chose to decide whether students were in danger or not by asking for advice from the Honolulu Police Department, and then issuing a warning through campus security e-mail.
I am quite concerned about the failure of the university to provide adequate warning to students. I do not wish to have campus authorities decide whether an incident is potentially dangerous to me. I want to be responsible for determining my own safety by first receiving immediate and adequate notice of potential harm. The man who allegedly made the threat was not apprehended until the following day, therefore the potential for harm existed while students were in class or in dorms during the period preceding his arrest. This simply is not acceptable. The campus has loudspeaker capability and could have alerted students to "muster" at different "mustering points" on campus where information could have been provided . Failure of this sort is exactly the type of failure that resulted in useless loss of life at Virginia Tech.
Hawaii does not need to lose its children and then conduct a hindsight review as other campuses have had to do -- not in an age where deadly school incidents are reality.
Lennie Nickels-Carlson is a junior at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.