Colleges and universities learned from the communications failures during the Virginia Tech massacre, and many have established emergency plans that use various forms of technology to warn students of a security risk. This morning, Casper College in Casper, Wyo., faced a shooting on campus and used Twitter as one avenue to alert the community and communicate with students and faculty during the crisis.
A Casper College instructor notes how he and students got word of the shooting:
Political science instructor Chris Henrichsen said he was showing the film “Frost/Nixon” to his Wyoming and U.S. government class when he stepped into the hall to get something for a student and was told a homicide had occurred on campus.
He went back to his classroom, where students were getting messages about the campus lockdown on their phones.
Local media and students also used Twitter to relay information and rumors about the crime and to let friends and family know that they were okay.
Touchingly, others immediately tweeted their support to the school of roughly 4,000 students.
This shooting, like those before it, appears to have been a senseless act of violence and it will be hours before a fuller picture of what occurred is released.
What is newsworthy about this attack is how the school and the surrounding community, from journalists to students and local citizens, used modern technology to warn each other of the attack almost immediately. There will always be confusion, uncertainty, and rumor during incidents of this type but thanks to modern technology, the ability to voice warnings and share sorrow is now almost instantaneous.