Hunter: Recent RPIAlerts fall under system’s intended use

Earlier this month, the Department of Public Safety issued two RPIAlert messages—one on September 10 and another on September 12. Both of these alerts centered around an incident that occured on September 7 where a female student was approached and followed by a “white male approximately 30 years old” in a “maroon-colored” vehicle. 

According to the Vice President for Strategic Communications and External Relations Richie Hunter, the delay between each of the messages was due to the pending investigation. She also noted that there have not been any updates on the incident since then.

Most students are already familiar with the RPIAlert system. It allows the Department of Public Safety to send texts, calls, emails, or a combination of the three to the Rensselaer community. Yet, for many, was be the first time they receive an RPIAlert not related to weather conditions or system testing.

According to its website, the RPIAlert system was designed to inform “campus constituents of an active, major emergency.” The examples of incidents that fall into this description include: “hazardous material spill/exposure,” “severe weather,” or “an active shooter or other reported immediate life-safety threats on campus.” The recent alerts break precedent; they may have caught some off guard, but as Hunter explained, the use of the system isn’t being expanded. 

“The importance of the incident and whether it qualifies for a safety alert is based on the specific case and circumstance. Every circumstance is different,” said Hunter. “The overall philosophy is if an incident can affect safety of the community, it becomes a safety alert.”