Section 1000: Campus Policy

Effective: December 16, 2013
Revised: November 2015
Review Date: November 2017
Responsible Party: Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration


The purpose of this policy is to define the use of Montana State University-Northern's Emergency Notification System. This system has ten notification components. These components are intended to improve emergency communications between University Administration and MSU-Northern students, staff, faculty, and visitors. In order to promote the safety of everyone on campus, this document will establish the protocols that are to be taken in case of an emergency. The MSU-Northern Emergency Notification System (ENS) includes:

  • Text messaging through Wireless Emergency Notification System (WENS)*
  • University e-mail list serves (All users and Current Students )
  • Campus voice mail
  • Message on all campus computers
  • University web page
  • MSUN Switchboard Message (265-3700)
  • Telephone Tree
  • Campus & local radio
  • Hand held public address systems
  • Campus Social Media

*Note: the Wireless Emergency Notification System (WENS) is a third party company that manages and distributes our text messages. The acronyms WENS and ENS are not synonyms and cannot be used interchangeably. WENS refers to a company and is only one aspect of MSU-Northern's Emergency Notification System (ENS)


Participation in MSU-Northern's Emergency Notification System (ENS) is required for all students, staff and faculty. All individuals with wireless communication devices paid for in whole or part by the University must participate in the WENS emergency text message system.

MSU-Northern will pre-populate the MSU-Northern Emergency Notification System with the e-mails and cellphone numbers that exist on Northern's Banner system for all MSU-Northern students, faculty and staff. These distribution lists will be updated every semester automatically.

People wishing to receive an emergency text message must register on the WENS emergency text message system. International and toll based numbers are not allowed. Those individuals without mobile phones can use an alternate phone number (home, spouse, parent, etc.) and a voice message will be sent to the designated phone in place of a text message.

Employees are encouraged to enter both their mobile phone numbers and their home phone numbers so that they may be made aware of campus situations even when they are off campus.

Participation does not constitute any form of guarantee of safety.


The only emergency communication component that requires registration is the text / electronic messaging of mobile devices. There shall be a link to the Telecommunications registration page on Northern's internet home page. The Northern Network News and campus social media site will have ads/articles from time to time to increase awareness of the service and facilitate the registration process. Incoming freshmen and transfer students will be offered the opportunity to register during their orientation sessions.

Acceptable Use of the Emergency Notification System

The MSU-Northern Emergency Notification System shall only be initiated within the acceptable use criteria as outlined below. General notifications of a non-emergency nature shall NOT be permitted via the Emergency Notification System. The use of the system shall be limited to emergency events only. The following is a list of examples of appropriate emergencies. This is not exhaustive and MSU-Northern is not limited to only this list.

  • Bomb Threat - There is reason to indicate the threat is credible (e.g., potential device has been located).
  • Civil Disturbance - A demonstration by a large group that is disrupting normal activities and/or showing signs of aggressive behavior.
  • Fire - Any fire that is potentially placing lives in danger.
  • Hazardous Material Release - A dangerous material (i.e. chemical, biological, or radiological) that is spreading from a contained area and/or causing lives to be placed in danger.
  • Major Road Closing - An unanticipated closure that could disrupt safe passage to and from campus.
  • Medical Emergency - Confirmed contagious disease constituting a campus wide threat (i.e. pandemic).
  • Physical Assault - Weapons used, significant violence, perpetrator(s) at large (e.g. active shooter; hostage situation).
  • Suspicious Package - A package that is believed to have the potential to cause injury to a wide spectrum of lives or property.
  • Utility Failure - A major disruption of utilities and or possible damage (i.e. gas, electrical, water, etc.).
  • Severe Weather - Any severe weather that has the potential to cause injury to lives or property (i.e. flooding, thunderstorm, wind, tornado, snow/ice/cold, etc.).
  • Missing Person - If activation of the system has the potential to assist in locating the missing person. Alert for this type of incident shall be limited to the communication devices most appropriate for disseminating information.
  • Other, Life Threatening - Any other condition where lives are in immediate danger and the Emergency Alert System has the potential to reduce the potential of harm.
  • "All Clear" and/or additional follow-up messages will be used when appropriate.


Activation of the Emergency Notification System

There are two ways the Emergency Notification System can be activated. The first is for emergencies that have been identified by the campus and are the result of an administrative decision the second is for emergencies identified through a 911 call.

  • Administrative Activation

The decision to activate the Emergency Notification system must be for the reasons stated above and must be made by the Chancellor or person who is in charge of campus pursuant to Policy 202 ("Officials to Act in Place of the Chancellor"). Once the decision has been made, that person will contact one of the people listed below to activate the system.

  • 911 Activation

When any person notices a potentially dangerous campus situation they must immediately notify the Police by calling 911.

Once the 911 dispatcher receives a call that a potentially dangerous campus situation is in progress the 911 dispatch person will contact one of the following people:

      • Chief Information Officer
      • Web Master
      • Network Administrator
      • Director of University Relations
      • Dean of Student Engagement

Once the designated campus person is notified by the 911 dispatcher they will activate the MSU-Northern Emergency Notification System.


Drills shall be conducted as often as MSU-Northern administration finds appropriate in order to ensure that the system is effective and operational. There would be two types of tests: an administrative test and a functional test, which could be done together.

  • Administrative test - assesses how much time it takes to get emergency information from the dispatcher to a person receiving a text. This test will be done to a limited number of people.
  • Functional test - assesses the Emergency Alert System by broadcasting to students, staff, and faculty a non-emergency message informing them of the test and providing information regarding what to do if this had been an actual emergency.

Following the administrative and functional test, the Safety and Disaster Committee will meet to discuss how to improve the Emergency Notification System and procedures.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Official use of emergency contact information will be in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974.