Auraria students upset about wording of emergency alert during lockdown

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Some Auraria Campus students are upset about the way the campus handled a lockdown and emergency alert situation Tuesday afternoon.

Around 4:15 p.m. Denver Police were called to a stabbing at the light rail stop near the Auraria campus. The incident triggered Auraria Police to initiate a campus-wide lockdown.

“In our police dispatch center, we have the ability to lock every door on campus, all the entry doors. When we activate that system, it will automatically send out this emergency notification message,” Auraria Police Chief Michael Phibbs said.

The message was sent to every student at the campus. It said, “AURARIA CAMPUS lockdown! All entry doors are locked. Increase your awareness. Run, hide or fight if appropriate. Additional info from police will follow ASAP.”

According to Phibbs, the alert is a pre-written message meant to cover any situation that might prompt a lockdown.

“This is a message that was crafted several years ago that we thought would cover as many possible emergency situations as we could think of if we had to lock the doors,” he said.

However, many students believe it is time to work on the wording.

“They could have just been trying to cover their bases with that wording, but it just invoked a lot of fear into a lot of people,” MSU Denver student Lauryn Nemeth told FOX31.

Nemeth says the phrase “run, hide or fight” scared her.

“It obviously sounded more like an active shooter,” she said. “That trauma lives with you, were you actually in danger or not. Just tell people what’s going on, it’s not that hard.”

“Initially I was kind of freaked out after the whole Boulder thing happened,” CU Denver grad student Adam Sangiolo said.

He was in an architecture class on campus when the building was put on lockdown and says the wording of the alert made him very concerned for his safety.

“They couldn’t tell us where to avoid. They couldn’t tell us what the threat was. They couldn’t tell us if it was a shooter. We didn’t know anything, and it was just really frustrating,” he said.

“Our message is never to scare people,” Phibbs said. 

Both Sangiolo and Nemeth said the lack of information made matters worse. They both turned to Twitter for information when they did not get any updates from the campus.

“I was pretty freaked out because we had no updates for I don’t know how long,” Sangiolo said.

According to CU Denver Alters, a Twitter account that publishes the campus’ emergency alerts, the “all-clear” message was sent out 42 minutes after the lockdown.

“I don’t want to tell people not to worry anymore when I’m just not sure. So it took a little longer this time. I didn’t have any new information before we resolved it to update it,” Phibbs said.

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