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University officials review MU Alert System

Wednesday, University of Missouri officials are reviewing the MU Alert System after a bomb scare and a report of shots fired near campus.

Tuesday night, University Police evacuated Memorial Union and the Student Center on campus after receiving a bomb threat. Alert beacons and computer desktop alerts went off in both buildings, but a campus-wide text alert was not sent out to students.

Then a few hours later, a mass MU Alert text was sent to all students about a report of shots fired near campus which was cleared quickly after Columbia Police confirmed no shots were actually fired.

Christian Basi with the MU News Bureau said officials met with MUPD Wednesday morning to discuss the alert system.

“We’re currently reviewing what’s happened over the last several days,” Basi said. “We’re going to go through all the information. We’re going to see if we need to make any changes or any improvements, again maybe just any tweaks to the current procedures.”

Wednesday, several students on campus said they found out about the bomb threat only after the scene had already been cleared.

“I wish I had gotten it, what had happened right when it happened,” MU student Andrea Ares said. “It kind of made me upset because I want to know when things happen and stay current on what’s going on at Mizzou on campus.”

“I just think that they have a duty to protect their students,” MU student Sara Schroeder said. “And that includes telling us if there’s any kind of threat on campus.”

Basi said MUPD set up a safety barrier that expanded as far as possible to make sure everyone was safe, while at the same time continuing to allow business to go about as usual at the university. He said a campus-wide alert was not sent out because only people in the two buildings were affected by the threat. But some students did not agree.

“They say it was isolated but I don’t really think a bomb can necessarily be isolated and I think that we have a right to know so we can protect ourselves,” Schroeder said. “I really think they screwed up by not sending out an alert.”

Basi said officials chose to send a text out for the report of shots fired because the shooter could have been on the loose, possibly endangering more students.

“If they ever do get a text message from MU Alert, we want them to see it, we want them to pay attention to it, we want them to act immediately,” Basi said. “And that’s why those text messages, we have to be very judicious when we use them as opposed to using other forms of media such as Twitter and Facebook.”

Basi said several entities at the university have access to sending out MU alerts varying on the type of threat including the MU News Bureau, MUPD and Campus Facilities.

“Safety and Security are the number one priority at MU, and we continue to follow existing procedures, which we are reviewing to identify any improvements we might make in the future,” Basi said.

You can see the MU News Bureau’s full statement here.

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