Following last week’s lockdown, Hillsdale College administrators are urging students, faculty, and staff to update their contact information, because many did not receive an emergency alert to their preferred phone number.
When students and faculty members start their term on campus, the college requires them to fill out an emergency contact form. But according to Executive Secretary Sheila Butler, some students and faculty members rush through the form and end up inputting the wrong numbers to alert them in an emergency situation.
“It’s important, especially during an emergency,” Butler said. “They can’t be reached unless the information is correct.”
Associate Dean of Women Rebekah Dell sent a campus-wide email on Tuesday advising and informing students of how to change their contact info through the myHillsdale portal.
Butler said overall, Hillsdale’s automated call during the lockdown was an overwhelming success. According to a report from the college’s contact database, the college made 3,378 calls, 87 percent of them successfully.
More than 1,700 of the emergency calls went to voicemail, and more than 1,200 picked up. The other calls resulted in hangups, busy signals, or no answers.
Some students and faculty members, however, did not receive the call at all, relying on family and friends to relay the information to them.
Junior Aidan Donovan said he didn’t receive the college’s automated phone call during the lockdown, leading to some panic from family members.
“I didn’t get the automated phone call from the college, but my mom did,” Donovan said. “She freaked out, and it probably got her more alarmed than she needed to be.”
When Donovan went to check his emergency contact information, however, he noticed that he had written his parents’ phone number in the space asking for his cell phone number. This is why his parents were called instead of him.
Like Donovan, junior Zoe Harness said her parents received the emergency call, but she did not. When her parents called her, she realized that the situation was more than a drill.
“I guess that just made me realize the severity of the situation,” Harness said. “At first, it seemed like the college was just taking precautionary measures. But when my parents called, it made it a more active situation.”
Harness did have her proper cell phone number in the portal but had her parents set as her primary contact in an emergency. While Harness said she thought it would be useful to set her cell phone to her primary contact, she chose to leave her parents on her form.
“When it comes down to it, if I’m in an emergency situation on campus, I’ll know when I’m in danger,” Harness said. “But I think it’s important for my parents to know.”
Butler said the emergency calls only go to the primary and secondary contacts on a student’s form, and it’s important to make sure they have their preferences clearly defined.
Students, faculty, and staff can update their contact information by logging into the myHillsdale portal and clicking on the insurance and emergency contact information tab on the left side of the main portal page.
“It is important for students to take a minute to confirm all emergency contact numbers are properly recorded in our emergency response system,” Dell said in an email to The Collegian. “This information is key to the efficient and accurate communication to campus during situations where urgent or important information needs to be relayed.”