Recent Shooting Near Campus Raises Questions About Penguin Alert System

By Jennifer Rodriguez, Morgan Petronelli and Nami Nagaoka

After the Feb. 6 shooting that took place near campus, many students have been wondering why they did not receive a text message alerting them of the incident.

The Penguin Alert System was designed to alert students and faculty of any emergencies or weather alerts that could affect the school by sending a text to their phone.

Some students who signed up for Penguin Alert didn’t receive a text about the shooting, although they did receive an e-mail to their YSU account.

Ron Cole, Youngstown State University public information officer, said this happened because YSU switched to a new company since there were some issues with the old one.

“This new vendor is more efficient. State-of-the-art company for sending out alerts,” Cole said. “It is important that everyone goes online to sign up with their phone number. We automatically have everyone’s email address, but not the phone numbers.”

Still, some students feel the Penguin Alert system needs to be a little more detailed in the messages it sends out.

Henriette Ovaska, a YSU student, opened the email at her house as soon as she got the Penguin Alert. She said there wasn’t enough detail to relay what was happening.

Four emails were sent to each student the night of the shooting. Ovaska said that wasn’t efficient because people aren’t likely to pay attention to e-mails that are spamming their accounts.

“We do need to know if there is any [dangers] around campus. Especially for people who live on campus,” Ovaska said. “It would be more useful if they didn’t send me so many emails all at once.”

Alec Marsili, another YSU student, returned to his fraternity house on Pennsylvania Ave. shortly after the shooting occurred. He said the alert system is a great tool for the university and makes him feel safe living on the north side of campus.

“It’s really unfortunate that these things happen in our community, and I know the area can be dangerous, especially at night,” Marsili said.

Marsili said Penguin Alerts are more helpful than news stations to get information on a crime that affects YSU residents because they give real-time updates.

I’yonna Taylor-Smith, YSU student and resident assistant, said she is signed up for the Penguin Alert system, but didn’t receive a notification about the shooting until after the incident.

Taylor-Smith was in her supervisor’s office when the shooting occurred. Her residents began texting her asking what they should do because they didn’t know where Michigan Ave. was located and if this alert affected them.

Despite this predicament, Taylor-Smith felt that she and her residents were safe.

“All of the residence halls are equipped with cameras and speakers connected to the local police station. If any event ever occurred to where the shooting was in the building, the police can look in and lead us step by step to where they are so we can get out safely,” Taylor-Smith said.

However, she still feels there should be extra precautions taken to alert all students of a crime, especially those who live on campus.

“Sometimes I wish they provided more detail in alerts. With international students and students who don’t know their way around, they might not know where a certain location is,” Taylor- Smith said.
If you haven’t already registered for the new Penguin Alert system and would like to, please visit The site will provide an explanation about the Penguin Alert and a link for cell phones.