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Michigan State University expands ability to issue emergency alerts

man with a drill by a door
Craftsman Steve Guenther installs high-tech locks on classroom doors in MSU’s Bessey Hall on Wednesday. (Bridge photo by Dale Young)
  • MSU said it can now announce emergencies over an outdoor audio system across campus
  • The university has also begun installing classroom door locks allowing students or faculty to lock the door from inside  
  • The school is making several security changes after a shooter in February killed 3 students and injured several others 

Outdoor speakers at Michigan State University typically used for tornado sirens will now also be used to make audio emergency announcements, the latest in a series of security and communication measures the university has adopted following a deadly campus mass shooting in February. 

The alerts — which will also extend to outdoor emergency phones — will use a pre-recorded message that corresponds to the type of emergency the school is experiencing, said Dana Whyte, spokesperson for the MSU Department of Police and Public Safety (MSU DPPS).


She told Bridge Michigan on Wednesday the department is also looking into the possibility of sending out a customized live message in emergencies using these outdoor speakers and phones.  


“The weather sirens and green light phones audibly cover all outdoor areas on campus,” Whyte said.

The latest updates on campus security improvements were announced in an email to the campus community on Wednesday by Vice President and Chief Safety Officer Marlon Lynch.

Additionally, Lynch announced the university will now use push notifications on its SafeMSU app, the phone app MSU students use to get safe rides, share their location with others and connect with emergency services. 

The State News, the student newspaper, reported the app was first released in December 2021 after the undergraduate student government requested it. The app previously allowed users to check if they were signed up for MSU’s mass alert system.

screenshot of app
MSU will now issue push notifications on its SafeMSU app. (Courtesy MSU Department of Police and Public Safety)

Leaders plan to test the notification system Thursday. (You can download the app on Apple and Android devices). 

The changes are part of a larger and ongoing effort to improve campus security following the Feb. 13 mass shooting in which a gunman killed three students and injured five others on campus. 

After the attack, campus police and administrative officials have faced scrutiny and criticism for a delay of 12 to 13 minutes between the time the first frantic 911 calls came in about an active shooter and when police issued a campus-wide text message alert warning students and staff. In those precious minutes, the shooter was able to travel from a campus classroom building where most of the violence took place and enter the student union, where the third student was killed. 

Public records suggest a miscommunication between a shift supervisor and a police cadet working at the front desk of campus police headquarters.

a phone outside; person walking pass
An MSU outdoor phone is seen near Spartan Stadium on the Michigan State University East Lansing campus on Wednesday. MSU will now use its outdoor phones to announce emergency alerts. (Bridge photo by Dale Young)

Lynch also announced Wednesday the university is working to install classroom door locks this summer so that someone in a classroom can lock the door from the inside. 

Once the door lock systems are installed, the doors will indicate a green unlocked sign if they are unlocked and a red locked sign if they are locked. Law enforcement will be able to open a locked door using a physical key.

a sign that says lock in front of door
MSU is installing classroom door locks that allow someone from the inside of a classroom to lock the door. Law enforcement will be able to enter a locked classroom using a physical key. (Bridge photo by Dale Young)

Many students called for installation of locks after the shooting and, as Bridge Michigan reported, some faculty raised concerns months ahead of the shooting about their inability to lock doors from the inside

The gunman was able to enter a Berkey Hall classroom where he shot several students. The professor of the class, Marco Díaz-Muñoz, told Bridge days after the shooting that he and several students pulled in the door to try and make sure the shooter could not return from the hallway since they didn’t have a way to lock the door from the inside. 

Interim President Teresa Woodruff announced in March that MSU would be installing door locks on classroom doors across campus by the time students returned for the fall semester. MSU Deputy Spokesperson Dan Olsen told Bridge Wednesday that installations began in late May and about 50 locks have been installed so far with each lock taking about an hour to install.

There are roughly 850 classrooms or labs in total that will receive these locks.


Lynch also announced that the university has made progress on its goal to centralize its safety and security systems

On the night of the shooting, it took law enforcement nearly three hours to find security camera footage that identified the gunman, which left students and others huddling for hours in dorm rooms and closets before he could be located. According to police, the gunman killed himself as officers approached him off campus later that night. 

Lynch said Wedneday said the university has selected a vendor to buy, install and integrate a “single security management system” that will integrate all of the school’s security cameras and electronic access to buildings.

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