ALLSTON—This afternoon, students were alerted via text message and e-mail that there were black people on BU’s campus.
“The two black males walked along Commonwealth Avenue and St Mary’s Street,” described the message from the BU Alert Service.
“Although the clothing of the two has not been confirmed, it is assumed that they were both wearing hoodies.”
BU Alert, the university’s emergency notification service, is designed to spread awareness to students of any emergencies on campus. However, following reports of a pair of armed robberies this past week by culprits fitting similar descriptions, it has been re-appropriated to notify students during instances of black people sightings on Boston University’s primarily white campus. “The two black males have entered Nub Pob and are currently sitting inside,” added another message sent three minutes later.
“I was in a night class, when the phones of everyone in the room started going off. It really distracted the teacher,” says advertising major Kelsey Laud (COM ’14). “When I read the text, I figured it was just Dean Elmore and a friend.”
“Black people go to BU?” asked a confused Steve Rawlings (CAS ’15). “Oh, you mean like on the basketball team?”
BU Alert later reported that the two black males had left the building, stopped into the CVS at the corner of St. Mary’s and Commonwealth, and then took an inbound B Line train to an unknown destination. Students received these reports in a series of three texts which were delivered out of proper order to the phones of approximately 33,000 undergraduate students simultaneously. Alert Services ceased for the rest of the evening afterwards.
“Starting today, BU Alert only notifies students of black people who aren’t Dean Elmore,” asserts BU Alert designer Daniel Rainey (ENG ’02). “We’re not concerned about the Dean, but every other black person on campus is under close watch.” This is the first time that black people on campus have been reported via BU Alert, despite the system’s inception in March 2010.
“We’re only interested in the safety of the student body. This is not a surveillance operation,” added Mr. Rainey, as he slowly closed the door to a dimly lit room with what seemed to be thousands of high definition television sets.