Soon USU Eastern students, faculty and staff will know if the campus is closed due to a snow storm, a building fire or any other emergency situation within a matter of moments.
Code Blue, a new information messaging system geared to getting information out quickly, is being put into place by Utah State University across its campus around the state.
With the increasing importance of safety on college campuses across the country, colleges are putting systems into place to help get information to students, faculty and staff as quickly as possible. After the tragic events that took place at Virginia Tech in 2007, colleges were looking to implement systems that could inform everyone associated with a college within a few minutes of an event taking place.
In 1989, legislators in United States House of Representatives and later in the U.S. Senate passed the Clery Act, named after Jeanne Clery, a 19-year old Lehigh University student who was raped and murdered by a fellow student in her dormitory in April 1986. The act requires all college and universities who participate in federal financial aid programs to document and disclose information relating to crime on and around a college campus.
While the Clery Act was one of the first pieces of legislation, now colleges including USU are implementing systems such as Code Blue to inform people on campus of many different situations including threats to personal safety, fires, snow closures, evacuations, severe weather, building closures and more.
Judy Crockett, an emergency manager with USU, said the Code Blue system has thousands of USU students and faculty members from numerous campuses across the state that have signed up for the service. Last Thursday, USU tested the system by sending out emails, text messages, phone calls and social media messages.
"It's an awesome system compared to the previous methods we used," said Crockett.
While the system could be used in a variety of ways, Crockett said it will only be used in emergency purposes only. The system is funded through a $1 per year fee for students, she said.
Before the Code Blue system was implemented, Crockett said there wasn't a particular system in place. Typically the school would send out emails on a listserv to all students and relied on word of mouth to get the word out. Now over 32,000 people receive emails for the Code Blue system and more than 5,000 receive information from test messages, according to Crockett.
Brad King, vice chancellor for administration and advancement with USU Eastern, said the Price campus has never had a true emergency situation take place before. With an incoming snow storm last year, King said students were informed of the impending storm through their email accounts that the campus would be closed for the day.
"The Code Blue system will provide us with a much better method of getting the information out to everyone," King explained. King said USU is still working on making the messages sent out a little more tailored to each specific campus.
With all of the different methods of being contacted, King said he is signed up to receive messages through his office phone and on his cell phone via a text message.
"The system certainly gets your attention," he said.
Typically the system is tested two times per year to make sure things are working properly, Crockett said. Anyone who is associated with USU can sign up for the Code Blue service, she said noting more information about the system can be found on the USU website.