School’s text alert gaffe makes the Twitterverse gaspFrom staff and wire reports
Read more by staff and wire services reports
December 7th, 2012
UM’s Emergency Notification Network exists to alert students and faculty of a safety threat—an oncoming hurricane, for example, or maybe an armed gunman. But the text message that went out to the UM community on the evening of Dec. 5 contained a different sort of warning:
“Black male on campus,” UM proclaimed. “Wearing black and white tennis shoes, white shirt w/blk writing, black shorts.”
The message was related to a stolen laptop computer, but, in an apparent administrative glitch, UM’s text alert made no mention of an actual crime. That left some to wonder whether UM was suggesting that being a black man on campus was in and of itself somehow suspicious or wrong—otherwise, why would anyone need the urgent heads-up about it?
UM sent out a separate (but also incomplete) warning via Twitter that read like an empty template: “DESCRIPTION with WEAPON by LOCATION,” it stated.
The mistakes led to raised eyebrows—and plenty of jokes at UM’s expense—across the social media world.