UT utilizes social media, texts to notify campus of threat

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - At 8:35 Friday morning a caller with a Middle Eastern accent, claiming to be Al Qaeda, threatened to set off bombs across the University of Texas campus.

At 9:50 university officials ordered an evacuation of campus buildings.

"We weren't evacuating the entire university we were getting students out of the buildings, that was the threat," said UT President William Powers Jr. in a press conference Wednesday.

Lufkin native and UT freshman Colton Childers was told to stay in his dorm but wasn't far from panic outside.

"The Dobie officials came on the intercoms and said you can just stay in Dobie there is no need to evacuate. So we all stayed there and kind of hung out but you could tell all the people moving in big drones" said Childers.

Although the university waited over an hour to notify students of the threat, they turned to technology to make sure everyone got the message.

"They actually sent us a text message, so there is an emergency text message service for the campus and I got the text at 9:51," said Childers.

A warning sent right to his phoning urging to get as far away from campus as possible, Childers says, the university made the right call in using text, facebook and twitter to spread the word instantly.

"I think it's the best way, some people might not think its reliable but as students that's how we communicate with each other. If we are going to receive an important message that's how we are going to receive it most efficiently and quickly," said Childers.

University officials questioned the creditability of the threat, but decided the cautious thing to do was to clear the buildings. No bomb was ever found.

"We are very confident that our campus is safe going forward," said Powers.

Copyright 2012 KTRE. All rights reserved.