Rethinking Crisis Communications on Campus: An Evaluation of Faculty and Staff Perceptions about Emergency Notification Systems

H. Jaymi Elsass 1 , Joseph M. McKenna 1 , and Jaclyn Schildkraut 2
  • 1 Texas State University, 601 University Drive, San Marcos, TX 78666, United States of America
  • 2 State University of New York at Oswego, 458 Mahar Hall, Oswego, NY 13126, United States of America
H. Jaymi Elsass
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  • United States of America
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  • H. Jaymi Elsass is Lecturer in the School of Criminal Justice at Texas State University. Her primary research interests include episodic violent crime, moral panics, fear of crime, and juvenile delinquency. She is the co-author of Mass Shootings: Media, Myths, and Realities and has published in American Journal of Criminal Justice, Crime, Law and Social Change, Security Journal, and Criminology, Criminal Justice, Law & Society, as well as several edited volumes.
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, Joseph M. McKenna
  • United States of America
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  • Joseph M. McKenna is the Associate Director of Research and Evaluation at the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University. He conducts research in the areas of violence, school safety and emergency management, school crime/disorder, school climate, policing, and public policy. His research has been published in Criminal Justice Policy Review, Criminal Justice Ethics, Journal of Qualitative Criminal Justice & Criminology, International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, and Security Journal, among other practitioner and academic outlets.
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and Jaclyn Schildkraut
  • United States of America
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  • Jaclyn Schildkraut is an Assistant Professor of Public Justice at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego. Her research interests include mass/school shootings, homicide trends, mediatization effects, moral panics, and crime theories. She is the co-author of Mass Shootings: Media, Myths, and Realities and has published in Homicide Studies, American Journal of Criminal Justice, Journal of Qualitative Criminal Justice & Criminology, Fast Capitalism,Criminal Justice Studies, Crime, Law and Social Change, and Criminology, Criminal Justice, Law & Society, as well as several edited volumes.
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The use of emergency notification systems on college and university campuses nationwide have been a focus since the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech. In the aftermath, many of these institutions sought to install new emergency notification systems, or overhaul existing systems, to alert students in the event a similar incident took place on their campus. Researchers also began to focus on these systems by exploring their implementation and effectiveness; despite such advances in the literature, however, a noticeable gap persists. Specifically, much of the research focuses on the technology rather than the users themselves. Conducted at a large southwestern university, the present study sought to narrow this void by examining the perceptions and employment of the system by a key group of users – faculty and staff members – who often are considered the first line of defense in emergencies on campus. The findings not only highlight the continued need for multimodal notification systems, but also better education and training with relation to their use to increase user engagement and improve overall operations. Limitations of the study, directions for future research, and related policy implications for universities also are discussed.

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