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Collin College Launches Emergency Text Messaging System

November 27, 2007 - Next time roads ice over and snow blankets the Collin County area, cell phones will start buzzing as students and employees of Collin College learn that campus is closed via text message.all from the warmth and comfort of home.

The messages are a part of the new "CougarAlert" emergency notice system, which the college introduced this week. College leaders hope they never have to use it for on-campus crisis like the Virginia Tech tragedy, but should an evacuation become necessary, CougarAlert can help students and employees steer clear of danger.

With subscriptions to CougarAlert now open, the college is strongly encouraging students, faculty and staff to subscribe. The system allows students and employees to subscribe for free and choose whether to receive the alerts via text message, digital phone message or e-mail. While there is no fee to subscribe, standard text messaging fees from service providers may still apply.

According to students, it is a small price to pay for personal safety.

"I am happy to see Collin College take the initiative to implement a program of this type," Edwin Shivers, Collin College student, said. "With all the shootings that are happening in learning institutions across the country, I am glad to see that my college cares enough about my safety to implement this system. I hope that all the students take advantage of the system and sign up."

The college plans to send CougarAlerts for emergencies that require unscheduled closure or evacuation of a single campus or the whole district. This includes, for example, inclement weather, power outages, police emergencies, catastrophes and/or hazardous chemical exposures. Cougar Alerts will not be used for promotional purposes or for scheduled closures, such as holidays.

"Police emergencies at colleges and universities are horrifying, but, fortunately, quite rare," said college president Cary Israel. "With this new system, we can blanket our entire college community with instructions in as little as 90 seconds, adding an extra layer of protection to our emergency procedures. Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of our students and employees."

To subscribe or for more information about CougarAlert, visit www.collin.edu.

Collin College serves more than 46,000 credit and continuing education students annually and offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs. The only public college in the county, Collin College is a partner to business, government and industry, providing customized training and work force development.