Their priority was to ensure the safety of people and get emergency crews to the scene. Within a few minutes, they blocked a major road and alerted more than 63,000 people by text message to avoid the area.
Within an hour, the fire department cleared the place, the road was reopened, and everyone was told they no longer needed to avoid the area.
The UF Alert System, which was responsible for sending notifications that morning to tens of thousands of individuals – mostly by text message – is the university’s response to a federal law enacted in 1990 requiring institutions to provide accurate and transparent information about emergencies such as in addition to crimes On or near campus through timely alarms and emergency notifications.
Jane Cleary’s disclosure of the Campus Security Policy and the Campus Crime Statistics Act, or Cleary Act, requires all universities and colleges receiving Title IV funding to maintain policies and procedures that address campus security, crime prevention, and victim services. The goal is to arm university students, faculty, staff, and community members with the knowledge to help individuals make informed decisions and take an active role in their personal safety.
“The spirit of the Cleary Act is transparency,” said Rebecca DeCesare, Assistant Director of Compliance and Ethics and Cleary Compliance Officer at UF. “With this in mind, the UF Alert System is a mechanism for the University to communicate about emergencies or crimes that occur.”
DeCesare explained that the UF Alert system sends out three different mass communications messages, including emergency notices (marked by UF Alerts on the Gainesville campus) and timely warnings, both of which are required by the Cleary Act.
Three types of messages
UF Alert is issued primarily through SMS/text messages, GatorSafe app push notifications, UF Alert and UF public safety social media posts, email, VOIP and as an advertisement on the UF homepage when an emergency or situation occurs Dangerous on campus that involves a direct threat to the health or safety of students, faculty, and staff. These messages are generally short and can include multiple messages sent within a period of time, providing information about the situation and a call to action for recipients. UF alerts are sent when emergencies occur in real time and could be criminal, weather related, or other types of danger to the UF community.
A timely warning is sent primarily through email, a GatorSafe app push notification, UF Alert and UF Public Safety social media posts, and a flag on the UF homepage when a Cleary offense poses a serious or continuing threat to students, faculty, and staff are reported to the Department University Police or Campus Security Authority. Timely warning tends to be longer than alerts and does not require follow-up messages. Warnings provide detailed information about the crime with the aim of preventing similar crimes from occurring in the future.
A recent example emerged on September 7 when the UFPD sent a timely warning to inform the campus community of an increase in car thefts on campus. The letter added tips for keeping vehicles safe and described how the UFPD was dealing with thefts by increasing patrols in campus parking areas.
“These messages are important for two reasons,” DeCesare said. “They keep our community aware of emergencies that can affect their health and safety, and provide instructions and information on how to keep yourself and others safe.”
The third type of UF Alert System messages – Campus Safety Messages – is a newer public safety mechanism at UF for sharing information with the community regarding issues that do not meet the criteria to be sent as a timely warning or UF alert under the Cleary Act.
The UF Office of Compliance and Ethics relies on partners across the university to meet the requirements of the Cleary Act, including the UFPD, the Department of Emergency Management, the Office of Access and Gender, Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, UF Housing, GatorWell, and UF Health Security. In addition, every year more than 2,000 employees are appointed and trained as campus security authoritiesAnd the Working as a reporter is mandatory for those who do not wish to report to the police.
Annual reports published on 1 October
In addition to timely emergency notices and warnings, the Cleary Act requires that universities publish annual fire safety and security reports each year. The security report includes statistics on reported crimes from the previous three years that occurred on campus or at sites owned by the UF or officially recognized student organizations as well as on public property in the immediate vicinity of the UF.
The Annual Fire Safety Report contains information about fire safety regulations, statistics for on-campus student housing facilities, and fire safety policy information. It also details procedures for evacuating student housing in the event of a fire, policies for educating students and staff about fire safety, and the titles of each person or organization that individuals must report a fire to.
Annual Fire and Safety Reports are published by October 1st of each year and can be found at: https://clery.compliance.ufl.edu/annual-security-and-fire-safety-reports/.
For more information about the Clery Act and the university’s commitment to keeping the campus community informed and safe during times of emergency, please visit https://clery.compliance.ufl.edu/.
Be sure to update your contact information and UF Alert preferences at ONE.UF.
September 22 2022