Campus Messaging

Information from the Chair of the Emergency Management Team

Dear William & Mary community:

Periodically it is necessary for the university to communicate with you about safety issues of an important and sometimes urgent nature.  Below we have included some information to clarify both the types and sources of emergency communications from the university. We’ve had a number of these messages this semester - ranging from immediate campus safety concern notices through RAVE, our mass notification alert system, to informational messages that come via email from me or a senior administrator on campus.

Before describing the different types of safety messages, let me provide some information about the methods we use to communicate them.  The RAVE system is what we use for our more urgent communications. RAVE has the flexibility to send messages in multiple formats, including phone calls, text messages, email, social media and on your campus computer screen. The William & Mary website (www.wm.edu) is also always a source of the latest information in any situation involving an ongoing threat. Messages from RAVE are also posted on the university’s W&M News Twitter (www.twitter.com/wmnews) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/wmnews) pages. If you have not yet registered for RAVE, please do through the “Personal Information” tab in Banner.

Typically there are three categories of safety messages – Emergency Messages, Timely Warnings and Community Concerns.

Emergency messages will come through RAVE from William & Mary Police or via direct email from me as Emergency Management Team Chair. These messages can include information about any emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees on campus.   They may refer to serious physical hazards, such as a chemical spill or imminent and/or serious weather threats. (While weather notices are not always emergencies, per se, they are always urgent in that they are time sensitive.) In situations with the most urgency, text messages, emails, phone calls and computer alerts will all be utilized through the RAVE system. Otherwise, these messages will be sent through RAVE to email and/or text contacts and via social media only.  Emergency messages may be sent to the entire campus community, or may be sent to particular groups at risk, such as a notice issued to VIMS community members only. 

Timely Warnings will also come through the RAVE messaging system. Timely warnings, which are required as part of the federal Clery Act on campus safety,   are sent by William & Mary Police when they become aware of (1) certain types of reported crimes, (2) occurring on or near campus or other part of our “Clery Act geography”, (3) that pose either a serious or an ongoing threat to the safety of campus and/or its occupants. Examples include on- or off-campus sexual assault, robbery, and the like when it is determined that there is an on-going threat to the campus. The purpose of these warnings is to create awareness of possible criminal activity that poses risk to the campus.  Under the Clery Act, the university cannot wait for criminal charges to be brought or to determine if a crime has in fact occurred; the warning must be issued promptly.  Text, email and social media are the most common methods used for delivering these messages.  In some cases, these messages are also posted on the W&M homepage.  Timely warnings must be sent to the entire campus community.  To learn more about the Clery Act visit our compliance website.    

Community Concern messages will most likely come via email from me, Police Chief Deb Cheesebro or Ginger Ambler, vice president for student affairs.  This is the broadest category and could include topics ranging from informational messages and warnings of a safety concern to calls for community action/help.  An archive of all the messages in this category is available on the William & Mary News and Media website.

We don't want to overload your phones or your emails but we do want to make sure that you stay informed. Although some of these messages are required by law, the fundamental purpose will always be to help ensure the safety of the community. Hopefully, this helps explain what you could receive, when and why.

If you have any comments or questions, there is a feedback link on the WMPD website.

Sam Jones, Chair
William & Mary Emergency Management Team