Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

I was just thinking of the disunion between the “Swampfox Emergency Alert System” and the requirement of administrators and instructors that all cell phones be silent (not even on vibrate) during class time. I understand that cell phones ringing audibly and being answered by students whether notified audibly or vibratory would be a great disturbance to classroom instruction. However, I do have the following problem and questions. What good is the “Alert” if during a 75 minute class, I cannot receive the alert due to the apparent zero-tolerance policy regarding the simple act of merely gazing at your personal cell phone for important incoming messages? Does the “Emergency Alert” have some special ringtone or vibration override to cell phones that would let me know this is an emergency versus just a regular garden-variety message. I think not.

Should I hope that the tornado comes at the campus during the 10 minute break between classes so I can get the message? Will the crazed lunatic with the AK-47 be nice enough to attack an instructional building during class changes so that I can receive notification and run? Is there a campus-wide alarm audible to all classrooms that identifies the emergency in a way that appropriate life-protecting action can be taken? Run, take cover, go to the bottom floor, etc. Again, I think not.

I feel that Francis Marion University’s “Swampfox Emergency Alert System” was instituted, at least in part, in response to the April, 2007 slaughter of 32 innocent people at Virginia Tech University at the hands of a psychopathic madman. Some victims might have been spared had they been real-time notified of the dangerous and deadly situation reported by numerous witnesses. But they were not notified and walked right in to the “killing field”.

Administrators and instructors, please avoid patronizing the Francis Marion Community with safety policies and procedures that are at odds with strict zero-tolerance guidelines regarding modern communication devices. How shall this be reconciled?

Dewey Propst