BC Evacuation After Reported Assault Raises Concerns Over Emergency Alert System’s Reliability

Seamus Allen // The Watchdog

On Tuesday, February 27, a reported case of sexual assault shook the Bellevue College community. The crime was reported around 8:50 a.m. By the time Bellevue Police arrived, they almost immediately ordered a campus evacuation. The campus was shut down for the rest of the day. The suspect allegedly was wielding a knife, and though the Bellevue Beat reported that “Bellevue Police do not believe there is any ongoing threat to the school or local community at this time,” there is no doubt that the campus evacuation was ordered out of concerns for safety. So, why were many not alerted about the evacuation until long after? 

When I watched swarms of students fleeing campus from the third floor of the R building, I knew something wasn’t right. But it was only when I received an email on the afternoon of the day after the evacuation that I realized why I wasn’t alerted. According to an email sent to the student and staff body by Rodger Harrison, Vice President of Information Technology Services at Bellevue College, “Public Safety has received several reports of text messages not being delivered to individuals that have signed up for the Rave BC Alerts notification system.” He later added in another email, “The cause of the missing data was due to a technical problem with the data transfer to the vendor, with their servers sporadically timing out.  To prevent this problem from occurring again, the vendor is adding safeguards to stop any future loss of our student and employee data.  The only point at which your self-enrolled cellphone number or email address will be removed is when you are no longer a student or employee of the college or if you choose to remove it yourself.”  

Information Technology Services is asking all who wish to be subscribed to text alerts to double-check that their contact information is present and up-to-date on the Emergency Alerts website. They also ask that all questions be directed to Director of Public Safety Ross Villegas.