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Emer­gency tele­phone alert responses. Grace DeSandro | Col­legian

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.”

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Thomas Novelly
Collegian Editor-in-Chief, Thomas Novelly was born in Novi, Michigan, but was raised in Franklin, Tennessee, making him a self-proclaimed "Yankee gone South." Thomas began writing for The Collegian as a sophomore, and since has served as a reporter, columnist, and Assistant City News Editor. He has also worked for two major publications, interning at the Washington Free Beacon in D.C. and The Tennessean in Nashville. His work has been seen in National publications such as CBS News, National Review Online, Stars And Stripes, and USA Today. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.