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To the Editor:

The events that occurred in the early morning of Sunday Nov. 21 were a vivid reminder of the challenges we face in maintaining a safe and secure community. We share The Daily Pennsylvanian Opinion Board’s appreciation for the excellent work of the Division of Public Safety in responding to the threat to our campus (“Improve Alerting,” 11/22/10), and we are grateful that no students, faculty or staff were harmed.

Some have asked why a public alert was not immediately sent via the UPennAlert Emergency Notification System. Again, we share the editorial’s view that, because the situation was so swiftly resolved and there was no continuing threat to others on campus, DPS was right in choosing not to send a text alert. The UPennAlert system is designed to address circumstances of imminent public threat, issuing directive advice to members of the public so that they can take actions to protect themselves. It is not intended to serve as a system to provide breaking news about crime or as a general means of providing information or updates — except as they relate to those rare events when people need to take protective actions.

In the editorial, the DP expressed concern about the length of time it took for the University to communicate details of the event. In our advanced age of instant communication, information spreads quickly, if not always accurately. In the aftermath of an event such as Sunday’s, even once the public threat is clearly removed, it can take time to assemble factual details of what has transpired. No one is served by circulation of misinformation. For those in closest proximity, however, and who felt the most vulnerable, the lack of detailed information must have been unsettling as the minutes ticked by. We understand this reaction and will use this incident to plan with college house deans and residents, public safety officers and administrators to evaluate our response and the best and timeliest methods of communication.

All DPS personnel ­— in particular the Penn Police — served us well this weekend, and we are thankful for their work in protecting the health, safety and well being of the Penn community. While no college or university is immune from crime on or off campus, we aspire to create the safest possible environment for our students, faculty and staff.

Craig Carnaroli and Vincent Price The authors are the Executive Vice President and Provost of the University, respectively.

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