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UT unveils plan to update safety communication after deadly stabbing

University of Texas leadership, UT Police, the Student Government Executive Board have come up with the following steps to address emergency safety protocol and communications in the future after a stabbing left one student dead and three injured earlier this month. (Photo: CBS Austin)

After one person was killed and three people were injured in a stabbing on the University of Texas campus earlier this month, the University's student government has unveiled a plan to address emergency safety protocol and communications in the future.

21-year-old Kendrex J. White is facing a murder charge in the stabbing death of Harrison Brown on May 1.

The day after the attack, UT President Greg Fenves admitted the university was "too slow" when initiating the emergency response to the stabbing and promised to "do better" in the future.

Along with UT leadership and UT Police, the Student Government Executive Board has come up with the following steps:

UTPD Action Items:

  1. Change Text Message Alert Policy. UTPD will be making changes to official procedure to improve the responsiveness of the text alert system. In emergency or life threatening situations, dispatchers will notify first responders and then immediately issue a text alert before taking new calls. This policy change accompanies a recent investment in new text alert infrastructure.
  2. Pursue Funds for New Dispatcher & Dispatch System. UTPD will continue to push for a third dispatcher to help handle the volume of calls and information. They have also voiced the need for a new dispatch system as the current one is outdated and slows down information flow. They are already working with the University to boost the department’s dispatch capacity.

University Communications Action Items:

  1. Include Student Voice in Crisis Communication Center. During future emergencies, two SG representatives will be integrated into the University’s Joint Information Center. They will deliver student concerns and information directly to the communications staff. Note: For immediate updates in a crisis, follow @UTAustin and @UTAustinPolice on Twitter.
  2. Improve Protocol for Addressing Rumors in Crisis. The UT Communications team will work closely with law enforcement to better identify and address rumors and misinformation. Through SG and University social media, students will receive accurate and timely information so they can stay up-to-date on investigations being conducted by law enforcement.
  3. Inform Parents More Rapidly. University Communications has already begun working with Texas Parents to encourage parents to receive opt-in updates. They will work to relay information more promptly to parents about campus safety and emergencies. Note: Parents should sign up for a free Texas Parents membership to receive updates.

Provost’s Office Action Items:

  1. Create New Academic Protocol for Crises. The Provost’s office is developing a new protocol on how decisions regarding issues like class cancellations are made and communicated. This protocol will guide University decisions in emergency situations for academic issues.
  2. Distribute Crisis Resource Sheet for Faculty. The office is creating a resource sheet for faculty that addresses handling crisis situations and considering student self-care. It will include best practices for accommodating students in times of need.

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