UK should reconsider its UK Alert policy


Kernel Opinion SIG

Kellsie Kennedy

Last Wednesday night, screenshots of threats to White Hall Classroom Building started to circulate through campus. At first I assumed the screenshots were fake or were targeting a different school. I dismissed the threat until more images flooded my social media. This was when the rest of campus began to panic. 

As it stands now, UK’s alert policy is, “UK Alert is an emergency notification system to communicate official information only during an emergency or crisis situation that disrupts normal campus operations of threatens the immediate health or safety of members of the campus community.”

This means that according to this policy, UK had no responsibility to alert its students of the bomb and gun threats to campus because the police believed the threats were empty. However, if UK had sent a UK Alert Wednesday night, it would have been the most proactive at reducing panic. UK students received most of their information about the threat from Snapchat screenshots in text messages and GroupMe. If a more official source, such as UK, had intervened, students would not have worried as much as we did.

UK did tweet out a statement on Wednesday night, but not every student has Twitter.

I have received messages from UK Alert about shootings near campus or gas leaks in old buildings. I make a note to stay out of the area, but the event has little effect on my personal life. In these situations, I know what is going on and so I do not feel a need to be afraid.

Even though there was no real threat, it felt as though there was because of the panic on social media and also because of UK’s silence. Some people received an email from UK that was so vague it only worked to increase concern. I myself did not receive this email.

I had a professor who did not cancel class (which meets in White Hall) but rather said that events such as these are rarely acted upon after a threat. He reminded us that UK Police were stationed on campus. He also pointed out that being afraid was exactly what the person who made the threats wanted.

Having someone say not to worry and provide reasons why makes you feel ridiculous if you continue to panic. People in my class texted me that they were embarrassed for ever being scared and nearly everyone showed up for class the next afternoon.

In not giving us more information, it seemed as though UK was treating us like children instead of adults. It feels as though our concerns are unsubstantiated when instances of school violence are becoming common. 

In the future, UK should take into consideration the panic that is caused when people are not well informed. More information should be released in circumstances such as these. At the very least, we should have received an alert. For the sake of reducing panic, UK needs to change its alert policy.