Message about the March 5 Malfunction of the In-Building Notification System
Dear Columbia Students, Parents, Faculty, and Staff:
As most of you know, we made the decision on Tuesday, March 5, to close the campus at 3:00 pm due to a winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service. When communicating that information across our campuswide, in-building notification system (recorded audio and LED monitors), the system malfunctioned. Instead of broadcasting the weather closing message that was input, the system broadcast a “violent intruder” alert. Because of this malfunction, we could not use the system with confidence to issue the standard “all clear” message. I understand how frightening this must have been for you, your families, and friends, and I am sincerely sorry that it happened.
As the vice president responsible for the safety and security of the campus, I want to assure you that we are taking steps to ensure the reliability of our emergency systems, including:
- An immediate and full review of policies, procedures, systems, and communications strategies that support emergency protocols, including a review of the system by the supplier.
- Campus information sessions covering safety procedures and systems within the next few weeks.
- Counseling Services sessions for students who may benefit from discussing their experiences during the false alarm. The Counseling staff will conduct group sessions Mondays through Thursdays at 12:00 noon in the Counseling Services office at 731 South Plymouth Court.
Finally, I want to compliment our community for its response. There were many instances where individuals responded immediately by following the recommended safety protocols.
Please accept my apologies, again, for this unfortunate occurrence. If I can answer any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Vice President, Campus Environment