Community safety and effective communication are core values at the heart of the Teachers College Public Safety Team’s mission. At various times, the College may alert the community to incidents or issues of concern, including by sending safety messages. Some safety messages are required by law and must follow specific timelines and protocols. Other safety messages are issued at the College’s discretion. The purpose of this page is to describe the types of safety messages and the circumstances in which the College will issue each one.
The Clery Act is a federal law that requires the College to issue messages that contain information about specific crimes that occur within a geographic area defined by the Clery Act. The College issues Clery Crime Alerts when there is a serious or continuing threat to the campus community that has been reported to law enforcement officials. The intent of a Clery Crime Alert is to enable community members to protect themselves. Clery Crime Alert crimes are defined by law as one of the following:
To recap: the College will issue Clery Crime Alert only where there is a continuing threat to the campus community. If the continuing danger of a specified crime ends, the College will not issue another crime alert but may elect to issue a discretionary Campus Safety Advisory (see below).
The Clery Act also requires the College to issue Emergency Notifications upon confirmation of a (1) significant emergency or dangerous situation that (2) involves an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees.
The Emergency Notification may involve a criminal act that presents an immediate threat. The Emergency Notification can also involve other, non-criminal immediate threats, such as an approaching hurricane or other extreme weather conditions, a hazardous materials release, a fire or explosion, or an armed intruder.
The intent of an Emergency Notification is to inform people that an event is occurring or imminently threatening the campus to enable people to protect themselves. The College will issue an Emergency Notification even if the threat is not on or immediately adjacent to campus if the situation nonetheless presents an immediate danger to the health or safety of students or employees.
Text messages sent for emergency purposes remain a special type of communication, as supported by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). When sending emergency messages, carriers require all senders to clearly identify all emergency messages with a sender name and an emergency label. (i.e., Emergency, Urgent, or Critical)
To support these requirements, all text messages sent through TC’s Alerts must meet carrier-approved standards and labels. As a result, each time TC sends an emergency message, we are required to state “TC Alert” and include a carrier-approved emergency label in our alert.
All emergency SMS messages must include one of these approved phrases:
Operational messages (i.e., nonemergency messages) are not allowed in the Emergency SMS Profile. Incorrect use of the Emergency SMS Profile could result in carrier-required suspension of TC’s domain.
From time to time, the College may issue discretionary safety messages, called Campus Safety Advisories, even though there is no continuing danger of a criminal act or an immediate threat to health and safety. Criteria the College considers in deciding whether to issue a Campus Safety Advisory include, but are not limited to:
In general, the College will consider proximity to the campus in making a decision on whether circumstances warrant a Campus Safety Advisory.