MC Alert Discrepancies
MC Alert, as referred to by official documents, is “Meredith’s emergency notification system for students, faculty and staff.” Its purpose is to alert the Meredith Community of emergency events in compliance with the Clery Act. MC Alert is a service that a Meredith Community member must opt into in order to reap its benefits.
On Feb. 5, 2023 at 1:22 p.m. an MC Alert was sent out notifying the Meredith community of “an armed man [that was] spotted on the greenway near campus heading toward Gorman Street.” Those receiving the message were advised to “shelter in place and stay calm.” Those enrolled in MC Alerts received an all-clear message at 1:39 p.m., shortly following the initial notification.
When asked about the decision to use MC Alert in this instance, Ann Gleason, Dean of Students, told The Herald, “Meredith College sends MC Alert campus emergency notifications when there is an on-campus emergency that poses an immediate risk to the health and safety of the campus community. Decisions to send MC Alert notifications in regard to safety concerns are guided by Campus Police.”
Dean Gleason also stated that the Raleigh Police Department (RPD) reached out to Campus Police about a call from a “concerned individual on the Greenway” who claimed they saw a “suspicious person.” Though no threats were identified on campus, Dean Gleason said that “Campus Police advised sending an MC Alert message out of an abundance of caution” she said.
Chief Al White, the Meredith Campus Police Chief (MCPD), also discussed the alert being sent out, noting that he bases the decision to put out an MC Alert on the safety of the campus and is “guided by the Department of Education Clery Act guidelines.” The Clery Act guidelines for Meredith College can be found in the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.
The Herald also asked Dean Gleason why MC Alert was not used when abortion protestors trespassed onto campus on Oct. 13, 2022. Dean Gleason reitterated that “decisions to send MC Alert notifications in regard to safety concerns are guided by Campus Police” and that “the incident in the fall was not identified as posing an immediate threat to the campus community so [it] did not prompt an MC Alert notification.”
Chief White was not present on campus during the abortion protests. Assistant Chief Mark Utley was on campus during the event but was unable to comment at the time of publication.
One observation made by multiple students, faculty and staff is that some individuals received notifications of the armed man on the greenway while some did not. Among those who received messages, some received notifications from multiple sources and phone numbers. When asked about why some received the messages and some did not, Dean Gleason said, “The [initial] message was directed to all recipients (those registered to receive MC Alert notifications). If an individual did not receive the initial notification via text message, this may mean that the individual’s device may not have been able to receive SMS or text messages at that time, or that they were not registered to receive SMS emergency alerts.”
Dean Gleason added that sending messages through multiple channels, such as text messages and phone calls, “is a function of the system used to distribute MC Alert messages. When text message notifications are sent out via MC Alert, the messages do not always come from the same text message number. The All Clear message was sent via SMS and voicemail.”
Some upcoming improvements to the system can be expected soon, too, according to Dean Gleason, who mentioned that “in the future, the College intends to include ‘MC Alert’ before each text message so that recipients will know that messages are coming from Meredith College, and will be sent as SMS and voice messages as long as this function does not delay the distribution of the emergency alert.” The Executive Leadership Team also announced in an email on Feb. 17 that they have “reviewed [their] protocols and trained additional personnel on the MC Alert system,” which was referenced in light of recent violence across college campuses.
In order for students to stay most informed, Dean Gleason recommended that all students, faculty, and staff register to receive MC Alert notifications and suggested that those who have been registered to MC Alert regularly review their contact information to ensure it is up to date. In addition, Dean Gleason noted that “campus community members are encouraged to review campus emergency procedures to be prepared in the event of a campus emergency.”
To sign up for MC Alerts, visit the Self-Service website and select MC Alert under the Miscellaneous tab.
By Freya Dahlgren, Junior Associate Editor