When a tornado warning was issued for Vanderburgh County Wednesday morning, around 10,000 RAVE emergency alert text messages were sent to students, faculty and other USI community members at about 5:48 a.m.
Recently, RAVE has underwent changes to make it more accessible to students, and a new, red colored icon on their MyUSI dashboard, Tuesday evening.
Through the icon, students can sign up to have RAVE alerts sent to their emails, cell phones or voicemails to warn them of natural disasters, and other events that pose a risk.
One major RAVE change is the way users will be put into the system, said Information Technology Executive Director Richard Toeniskoetter.
The alert system will be changed from an opt-in method to an opt-out method, Toeniskoetter said.
With the opt-in method, students can sign up for the program at their leisure, whereas opt-out means all USI students and faculty will be automatically signed up for RAVE, and they can “opt-out” if they don’t want to receive alerts anymore.
All students will have RAVE alerts sent to their email accounts after the new student email system is put in place this summer, but any current student or employee will still receive the alerts if they’ve signed up for them, Toeniskoetter said.
It’s more desirable for students to receive RAVE alerts through their cellphones but is not feasible at this moment, he said.
“We don’t have the mobile phone numbers for students at this point in time,” Toeniskoetter said. “The expectation is that we will need to start collecting mobile phone information from students, but have made no push in that way at all.”
Teams that work with student orientation will probably start looking into getting student cellphone information, he said.
Another difference in RAVE is that messages can be targeted to different groups, like students that live in housing and off-campus students, Toeniskoetter said.
He gave the example of a boil alert.
“We could send a boil alert to students who live on campus because if you live off campus, that alert isn’t effective,” he said.
One of the goals of the new RAVE is to use it cautiously, Toeniskoetter said.
“We don’t want to send so many messages that people start to ignore them,” he said.
Security officers at the Public Safety Office on campus are responsible for sending out the alerts.
Jayne Tang, Information Technology program manager, said RAVE will help alert the university community of any disasters including issues involving inclement weather and boil alerts.
“It’s a safety precaution,” Tang said. “If there is an emergency on campus, you would want everyone to know about it.”
The opt-out method is beneficial because with the opt-in method, people may not always sign up for RAVE.
“If you leave it up to people to opt-in, and they don’t understand the gravity the situation can be, they may not sign up,” Tang said.
It’s important for students to add their cell phone and email information to RAVE, so they can be aware of any dangers in the community, she said.