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UT students call for better crisis communications

Saturday night's graduation ceremonies are still a go at the University of Texas despite the threat of rain. UT says it has a plan to get the word out if things change. (CBS Austin)

Saturday night's graduation ceremonies are still a go at the University of Texas despite the threat of rain. UT says it has a plan to get the word out if things change.

With a crowd that big, communications will be key especially if something should go wrong. And after a tragic incident on campus earlier this month UT students are asking their university to do a better job of communicating with them during a crisis.

When a man with a knife fatally attacked a student in front of Gregory Gym back on May 1, students on campus learned about it instantly. Student Mark Behrendt says he was at work nearby when it happened but quickly heard about it through Twitter and social media.

And worried parents back home also quickly got the news. Chantell Green’s daughter is graduating tomorrow night. She says about the stabbing, “I was in Dallas and it was breaking news in Dallas, too."

The problem was a lot of the early social media posts weren't accurate. Behrendt says he heard, “They were looking for people wearing Greek letters. They were only going for guys. It was a lot of he said she said kind of things."

Gary Susswein, communications director for the University of Texas says, “Obviously we're competing against the social media landscape where there's a lot of rumors, a lot of misinformation flying around. So we want to make sure is that students and others can turn to the university channels as a way to get the real information."

Accuracy is good but the UT student government wants the school to be faster to get ahead of the rumor mill. Susswein answers, “They've raised some important concerns. There were also things we've taken note of. So we are working with sg to do everything from making sure that the initial notifications about incidents on campus go out promptly to making sure parents remain in the loop as the events play out."

Green says, “I would like to get one of those emails or text messages myself. That way i wouldn't have been so nervous. I would have known exactly what was going on." It turns out those types of email are available to Texas parents. Simply go to http://TexasParents.org to sign up.

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