U hopes to expand TXT-U program

Changes in the TXT-U program are expected to double the number of participating students.

The University of Minnesota is hoping to make TXT-U a requirement for all students sometime this Spring. TXT-U is a emergency notification text messaging system that alerts students of emergencies on campus.

Aleutian Calabay

The University of Minnesota is hoping to make TXT-U a requirement for all students sometime this Spring. TXT-U is a emergency notification text messaging system that alerts students of emergencies on campus.

Andrew Penkalski

The University of Minnesota Department of Public Safety is hoping to expand the service of its TXT-U message alert program by introducing an opt-out method of registration for the fall semester. The program, which is overseen by the Department of Emergency Management, will require students to update emergency contact information with a cell phone number. During this process, students will be asked whether they wish to receive TXT-U alerts. These changes in the registration process will ideally double the number of students participating in the TXT-U service, Emergency Management Director Terry Cook said. âÄúThat has been the experience of universities who have gone to an opt-out method,âÄù Cook said. Although this is a change that has been in development for some time, recent violent crime on campus might have pushed the opt-out decision forward. âÄúIt put the exclamation point on the fact that the types of incidents we have had shows we need to have TXT-U available to more people,âÄù Cook said. In the past, the University has been criticized for not sending out alerts immediately after crimes. It is this ability to encourage word-of-mouth among students that demonstrates the importance of a cell phone-based program, Minnesota Student Association President Paul Strain said. âÄúTXT-U doesnâÄôt stop crimes on campus,âÄù Strain said, âÄúbut it does mobilize the students.âÄù While the TXT-U program may promote safety awareness on campus, the issue of crime prevention still remains important to others. âÄúThe thing that is going to stop violent crimes is students really taking precautions,âÄù Strain said. âÄúIf itâÄôs the University broadcasting a better way to stay safe on campus, then that could be the way.âÄù According to Strain, MSA has also spent the past two years lobbying for increased hours of operation for the UniversityâÄôs Washington Avenue Bridge Circulator bus in an effort to reduce crime for West Bank campus pedestrians. University police have also witnessed a modern-day record for the number of officers on staff, University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said. But according to Miner, 50 officers on staff is still fewer than other large urban-area universities usually have. The Department of Public Safety hopes to implement the opt-out method earlier than fall if certain âÄútechnical issuesâÄù can be solved, Cook said.