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Goucher College Needs a Communication Overhaul


Article by Vivian Huddleston ’27

On Friday, February 22nd, Goucher College issued a brief ‘Shelter In Place’ warning, due to a police pursuit involving two individuals that had run onto Gocuher’s campus. However,many students were unable to learn this information until up to four hours after the initial incident occurred. This was due to the failure of both Goucher College’s Security Information systems and Goucher’s communication methods in general. 

The first failure of the communication system was the inaccuracy of the notifications themselves. Though what was sent out was timely, and sent at a good pace, it did not include all information necessary for students to understand what was truly going on. The notification letting students know that there were no weapons and the description of the subject, should have been prioritized over the usage of dogs. Also, there is no reason why Goucher’s student body should find out there were two runners until four days after the initial incident. While it is important to notify students about what is happening as it’s happening, it really only matters if the information is accurate. 

Photos of the E2 notifications with time stamps

Second, at the time the incident occurred, communication was only sent through Goucher’s E2 Campus Emergency Notification Alert System, a system utilizing text notifications to alert students about police activity, or any other sort of potentially dangerous event. 

In theory, this is a good system because students tend to have their phones on them at almost all times. However, using this system alone caused students to accidentally put themselves in potential danger. Using only a text message-based system can be treacherous if students are not actively with their phone (such as if they are showering, at work, in class, if their phone is dead, etc.). More notably, if students do not elect to sign up for the Notification System in the first place. 

Now, I am signed up for the notification system, and was at the time of the event. But, in the area of Mary Fisher in which I was sent to shelter, the majority of the students were not. This led to them only being able to receive information from the staff helping us shelter. Granted, they did a fantastic job not becoming panicked, and helping to lead us in an efficient and methodical manner, but they were busy, and needed to be terse with us. This type of brief, seemingly limited, information led to more panic than seemingly was necessary. Not to mention that many staff, faculty, and guests on campus that day were unaware of this information distribution existing at all. 

However, this could all have been avoided if people simply signed up for the notification distribution, correct? Well, no, as the lack of student engagement with the E2 distribution is a consequence of a greater problem – notification fatigue. 

If every Goucher College student knows one thing, they know we receive a lot of emails. We receive emails about every little thing: events, open applications, staff and faculty changes, the pilates schedule, everything! This excess of emails leads to a constant flurry of notifications, wherein any student in question will maybe care about one or two. After months of this email routine repeating, students start to grow weary of the constant checking, and ultimately ignore email notifications altogether. So, the last thing any student wants to sign up for is more messages that they may not care about at all.

But what’s worse is that despite all of these notifications, in my year at Goucher College, I have received one email explicitly telling me to sign up for the E2 Security system… which I received four days after the ‘Shelter In Place.’ 

Screenshot of the email sent on Monday February 26th, containing new information and the link to sign up for the safety notification system.

If Goucher wants to keep its students, staff, and faculty safe, it needs to diversify its methods of communication. They need to whittle down what is and is not necessary to send to students, and prioritize communications concerning the safety measures already in place. 

Until this happens, however, sign up for the E2 Security Notification Alert System to stay informed. The last thing we want is to read another email about it.

Disclaimer: This piece was published as a student’s op-ed submission. The Quindecim is a space for all students within the Goucher community to express their views and beliefs. These pieces are released in the name of journalistic integrity and not in an attempt to antagonize or reflect the institution of Goucher as a whole.


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