DPS Tests Emergency Alerts Over Break


The Fordham Public Safety emergency communications test, sent on Jan. 13, was received by the Fordham community on multiple platforms. (Courtesy of Instagram)

On Jan. 13, Fordham Public Safety sent out a test of emergency communications on multiple platforms to the Fordham community.

“We perform these tests at least twice every school year to ensure that the systems essential for your safety are working properly, and that both the staff responsible for sending emergency messages and the members of the campus community are acquainted with their operation,” said Public Safety in an email.

While Public Safety claimed these tests are performed at least twice a year, many Fordham community members have noted the infrequency of these emails.

According to Robert Fitzer, the associate vice president of Fordham Public Safety, these tests help prepare staff members for an emergency situation. Fitzer said they ensure users of the notification platforms are well-versed in their operations. Fitzer also said that these tests reveal flaws or transmission issues so they can be corrected before any real emergencies occur.

“The primary goal of this exercise is to ensure that all our equipment is working properly should it ever be needed,” said Fitzer. “The emergency notification systems would be used for any critical incident, natural or man-made, that could result in serious injury to students, faculty and staff.”

The tests also prepare students for an emergency event by exposing them to what they will likely see during such an event.

However, during an actual emergency, students will also be given a set of specific instructions to follow as well.
“These emergency notification exercises introduce students to the types of messaging and delivery modes that they would be experiencing in an emergency,” said Fitzer.

The winter break period was chosen as the best time to run these tests because multiple public address system announcements needed to be sent out, some with loud tones.

During winter break, there is low attendance on campus, so the announcements can be sent out while causing minimal disruption to the Fordham community.

Robert Fitzer assured that Public Safety will conduct more wide-scale testing like this moving forward, and these training exercises will take place semi-annually.

Fitzer claimed that the tests help prepare both staff and students for real emergency events, but there is still a question of whether they really are successful in producing the desired response.

Some students at Fordham said they weren’t aware that these emergency communications went out over the break, or they failed to grab their attention at that exact moment.

“I was asleep when the tests went out and didn’t even realize they were doing those,” said Athena Homorodean, GSB ’25.

According to The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), crime rates have decreased from 28,600 criminal incidents in 2018 to 27,300 in 2019.

This is likely due to the fact that college campuses have been evolving their safety and security protocols like emergency communications. While these safety measures are being taken by universities like Fordham, on campus crimes still exist.

According to NCES, most of the crimes that occur on campuses include burglary, motor vehicle theft, sexual assault and fondling.

Public Safety encourages students to never walk alone, use the Ram Vans instead of public transportation when traveling into the city and contact them if they feel unsafe.

Public Safety also advises students to have a realistic plan when confronted with an assailant and to never value their personal belongings above their own safety.