Welcome all new and returning students, faculty, and staff to Washington State University. As we begin a new academic year, it is important that we take a moment to emphasize our commitment to safety and security for everyone here at Washington State University. Our community is a busy and active environment. Keeping our students, faculty, staff, visitors and vendors safe is our greatest priority. In the event of an emergency or potential threat, WSU has a robust system of communication pathways including text messaging, outdoor warning system and social media to notify the campus community. This letter is to familiarize you with the WSU Alert System and to encourage you to learn more about this system and enroll to receive emergency communications through WSU. To sign up, go to my.wsu.edu

At the center of the emergency communications system is the WSU Alert Notification System. This allows us to send out emergency messages via text messages, phone calls, email, and social media. The system is activated when there is a potential threat to the campus community’s health and safety. WSU Alert is an opt-in system that requires you to enter your contact information online. You can easily register for WSU Alerts or update your contact information on the myWSU portal at my.wsu.edu under the emergency notification box.

Two other key elements of our emergency communications system are the Cougar Outdoor Warning System and WSU Alert webpage. The Cougar Outdoor Warning System is comprised of five outdoor warning sirens on the Pullman Campus, which are designed to be heard outdoors only. The siren tones are prone to echoing among the buildings on campus; however all possible adjustments have been made to improve the intelligibility of the voice messages. When you hear the sirens, follow the voice instructions. Be alert and pay attention to what is happening around you. If you cannot hear or understand the instructions, the default is always to seek shelter first, and then get more information. The Alert Webpage (alert.wsu.edu) serves as our official webpage dedicated to provide additional information in times of emergencies. On that site you can find up-to-date information and additional details that may not be provided in a text message.

How do we decide when and what to communicate during an emergency? First, we assess the nature of the risk to the University community and the quality of the available information. A trained team involved in crisis communications planning, including representatives from the WSU Police Department, Emergency Management, and Communications, arrive at decision within minutes of an incident occurring. The most effective mode of communication can vary depending on each individual situation, and could come in the form of texts, phone calls, sirens or word of mouth by officials, such as police officers.

Our other campuses across the state also are part of the WSU Alert System. Each campus maintains its separate emergency communications capabilities and manages communications specific to their particular campus. For more information about other campus alerts, see alert.wsu.edu.

At WSU, we are all responsible for creating and maintaining a safe, secure and welcoming environment for every member of our community. Each one of us can improve our community’s welfare by paying attention to our own safety, reporting crime and unsafe conditions, and helping others. Please help us by reporting anything that might not seem right to you, no matter how trivial you may think it is. If you see something, say something. Personal safety does not begin and end with our department. You can report suspicious behavior at 335-8548. In an emergency, call 911.

We wish everyone a productive, enjoyable and safe year and appreciate your attention to this important message as we all work together to keep WSU a safe campus. Go Cougs!