By George Mauzy
When the university began offering text messaging for faculty and staff winter quarter, it did so through an updated registration system that is accessible 24-7. Now, the Office of Information Technology has moved all previously registered students into the same system.
With the consolidation complete, OIT is encouraging anyone who has not signed up to do so.
"The registration system offers more convenience and functionality for customers and a better tool for us. And now that everything is in one place, we'd like to get more students, faculty and staff to sign on," said Duane Starkey, OIT's director of information technology business services and special projects.
Emergency text messaging sign-up began last fall when students were encouraged to register their cell phone information with the university. The information was used in a test of the text message system fall quarter. The option was extended to faculty and staff winter quarter.
Any faculty, staff member or student on any Ohio University campus who has not yet registered can sign up to be alerted by text message to emergency events on the Athens campus by visiting www.ohio.edu/emergency. Shortly after exiting the sign-up program, registrants will receive a confirmation text message and e-mail.
Students who signed up for text messaging after the fall quarter test are encouraged to visit the new sign-up site to verify their information. To do so, they should select the option for receiving a confirmation text message and e-mail. The original student sign-up software system did not include a confirmation feature, which led to messages with incorrect information bouncing back in the first test.
The registration Web site also is the place for past registrants to make updates any time their cell phone number and/or carrier information changes.
"It's important to make sure your information stays current. You should not only check if you've made adjustments to your service, but also if the service itself undergoes change, as when Cingular and ATT merged," Starkey said. "In the latter case, we'll make updates to the system, but a double check on registrants' parts is also encouraged."
Starkey said the university plans a test of the emergency text messaging system this quarter. Preceding the test, anyone who hasn't signed up should do so online. In the coming weeks, there also will be sign-up tables at Baker University Center. More details will be shared in Outlook as they're available.
First-year graduate student Megan Stone knows the value of signing on, and she encourages others to do so.
"A text messaging system makes me feel so much more confident and safe for future emergencies," said Stone, who was an undergraduate at Virginia Tech when a student gunman opened fire there a year ago this month. "Students check their text messages in class, but can't answer their phone in class. It makes it a more reliable way to communicate with us."
For more information on emergency preparedness, personal safety, crime alerts, crisis response and other resources available, visit the Ohio University Emergency Page at www.ohio.edu/emergency.