USG proposes changes to Alert BG, green initiatives

The Undergraduate Student Government outlined its goals for this semester at Monday night’s meeting, including possible changes to Alert BG, a tobacco-free initiative and various green projects.

Alert BG is a text message and email alert system in which the University police department sends messages to warn the campus community of emergencies.

USG and Information Technology Services is looking to change the program from opt-in to opt-out, so that students would be automatically signed up.

“I don’t have all the details of how we’re going to do it yet,” said Matt Haschak, director of IT security and networking in the department of information technology. “It’s something we’ve been talking about trying to drive up that participation.”

The current Alert BG system is an optional, two-year safety program. Alert BG texts the 5,779 subscribers, which includes 1,000 faculty and staff, and emails all University account holders in the event of an emergency, Haschak said. The University homepage, Facebook page and Twitter account also change and 125 digital screens throughout campus also display the message.

“Fortunately we haven’t had to use the system too much,” he said, “[but] for as much as everyone does texting … you might at least glance at it.”

USG President Alex Solis, Haschak and others hope to make the service automatically available to all students and subscribers unless one chooses to opt-out.

One problem with this proposal is that not all cell phone numbers are in the University’s system, Haschak said.

“I’m really hopeful for a resolution,” Solis said. “This really is a great initiative.”

Other pieces of note:

USG also discussed various green initiatives such as sustainable bike racks and adding more water bottle refill stations on campus.

Solis announced that gender-neutral housing will be an option on campus next semester. The housing will be available only to upperclassmen in Founders, he said.

On Wednesday, the Undergraduate Council will vote on a policy that would allow faculty to award a postumous degree to a student who passes away, said Academic Affairs Chair Kallie Durkit.