RRC will now send texts to students about incidents on campus

Courtney Bannatyne, BEAT REPORTER

The new protocol is meant to inform students when emergency responders are on campus and will give accurate and timely accounts of what’s happening. SUPPLIED/ Stefanie Lasiuk

Students at Red River College will now learn more about when emergency responders are on campus with a text alert system and a mobile safety app.

The college emailed students on Nov. 21, 2016 with news of this protocol.

“This new communications protocol is in response to feedback we received following an incident last Tuesday that resulted in a noticeable police presence at Roblin Centre,” the article read.

The college decided to do so after an incident on Nov. 15, 2016 where, according to the Winnipeg Police Service, a student threatened an instructor and police were called to the Roblin Centre around 12:30 p.m.

“The whole cafeteria was super quiet when they came in and everyone was watching to see who it was,” said Joshua Bergen, 23, a business administration student at Roblin Centre.

The Winnipeg Police Service would not disclose the name of the student. They did, though, say he was not arrested.

“I was surprised that the person was still in the school so I was pretty concerned,” Bergen said. “Although I had no idea how bad the situation was.”

Conor Lloyd, Communications Officer for Red River College, said the college did a threat assessment of the situation and declared the incident as not a threat to the safety and security of RRC’s students and staff.

He said staff and faculty members said, on behalf of themselves and some students, that they would like the college to be more responsive with situations like this.

“We used that information to help develop this new communications protocol,” Lloyd said.

If a student or staff member uses MTS as their service provider, they will get texts from the college when emergency units are on the campus. If they don’t have MTS, they can download the mobile safety app the college now provides.

“Something we always want to do at the college is find ways to be more agile and responsive when it comes to any type of communication that we do,” said Lloyd. “So whether it’s for emergency situations or whether it’s for keeping staff and students informed about events at the college, you know, we’re always looking at ways to improve it,” said Lloyd.

Bergen said he looks forward to this new protocol.

“I think that if people can get accurate information as coming straight from the campus itself, then it won’t cause as much confusion or not as much panic,” Bergen said. “If the situation isn’t too serious.”

Lloyd said this new protocol is for non-emergency situations so students and staff can still know what’s going on. In an emergency situation, he said, there is usually a lockdown.

“So, you know, we wanted to keep people as informed as possible,” he said. “So if they’re looking out their window, and they see people outside in fire trucks, they want to know, ‘what are the fire trucks doing here?’ ‘Should I be concerned?’”

He said the college didn’t come up with this protocol to clarify rumours about incidents, but it will help give an accurate account of what’s really happening.

“I think that the [Exchange District] campus is pretty personable and being as small as it is, you actually feel like your voice matters and has effect,” Bergen said.

Lloyd said they tested the protocol last week for a fire alarm and received good feedback.

“So people knew all the way along that there was no immediate threat, there was no safety concerns, and that the process was evolving, and we were providing information as it was readily available, and we assure that it was accurate and that it was appropriate,” he said.

The mobile safety app is already available for download.