Thursday, February 19, 2009

No Alerts for DePaul students

If there is a bomb on my campus, I want to know - so I can make sure not to GO to campus and get myself bombed. Makes sense, right?

So where was DePaul's message alert system during Thursday's bomb threat? We were supposed to receive phone, text message, and e-mail alerts if something major happened on campus - a bomb threat seems major to me.

We also have the message boards in all the classrooms - why didn't those go off, telling us to evacuate?

Public Safety is keeping quiet as the case is still under investigation.

At 12:50 P.M. a Public Safety nameless spokesperson told me that it was Media Relations decision not to utilize the service. When I called Denise Mattson, head of PR, she told me that they had used the electronic message board system. Because the threat was relatively small, - no classes in the building, only one building, and because Public Safety and the CPD were there to personally help people leave the library. The DPU Alert system alerts 30,000 people simultaneously - DePaul tries to only use that service in life-threatening situations, like the gas leak down in the Loop. For that, the People's Gas and Public Safety people needed time to understand how it was going to impact the campus. The leak began at 5 A.M., and at 7 A.M., the departments decided to shut down the buildings - namely the DePaul Center and CDM, becuase 1,000s of people would have been in the area, and that could have been a life threatening situation.

The contrast to the library is that there was a smaller population at risk and the CPD and Public Safety were personally on hand, said Mattson.


  1. I just opened that e-mail and decided to check our blog to see if anyone already posted it...rock on to you and Molly for being so on top of your game! This was exactly the information I was looking for...thanks!

  2. Laura - yes! I'm very impressed with your reporting of this.

    I e-mailed all the DePaul journalism instructors I know with a link to our blog. has posted a story from the Sun-Times newsgroup servers. NPR has also reported the story.

    Your urgent investigation was really pertinent information. It was nice to have the lack of an alert explained so thoroughly.

    I can't wait to read what the DePaulia posts about this event.

    Keep updating your story!

  3. isn't associated with's a Trib thing

    Also, this is the link to Chicago's Best Blogs little ditty about this, featuring "student journalist Laura Bollin":