Students Feel Cut-Off During Hospital Lockdown
COLUMBIA - Many University of Missouri students spent most of Wednesday thinking about their safety and not their school work.
With the University of Missouri Hospital on lockdown and rumors about a gunman or shooting on campus spreading via social media, students say they needed the facts.
Students got most of their information about the lockdown from fellow students, text messages and social media sites Facebook and Twitter before the university sent out its first mass email.
That email reached students around 2 p.m., about two hours after the hospital went on lockdown. University officials say they wanted to ensure they could provide students with accurate information before further fueling the rampant rumors spreading on social media.
"We had to disseminate a lot of information and find what was rumor and what was fact," said MU News Bureau Executive Director Mary Jo Banken.
The university did not utilize its emergency mass text since no immediate threat existed for students, but many students felt that they needed more information to discourage rumors about a gunman on campus from spreading.
"Several people in my dorm were freaking out when they heard a rumor that there was a gunman on Virginia Avenue, right outside or dorm," said MU sophomore Megan Gilley.
Many students felt even if the threat wasn't great enough to activate the emergency mass text system, the school should have communicated with them more quickly to keep rumors from spreading.
"I think they should have sent out a general mass email about what they knew sooner because without it people were still scared," MU student Taylar Smith said.
But the school insists releasing information before they knew exactly what happened would have created more rumors not less.
"We felt we had to get to the fact of the matter before releasing anything because there were so many rumors out there already that if we put anything out that wasn't completely accurate we would have been fueling the rumor mill," Banken said.