Jordan Pollard, a freshman majoring in general studies and custodian for BYU-Idaho, was vacuuming the first floor of the John Taylor building around six in the morning on Jan. 14, when the lights started to flicker.
“The light flashed, then it flashed again, and I was like, ‘maybe there’s, [a] shortage in the plug or socket or something,’” Pollard said. “So I pulled [out the vacuum plug] and then I looked at the girl next to me.”
His co-worker didn’t know what the problem was either.
Then, Pollard said, all of the lights started flashing, and the power cut off.
His boss was called, who instructed them to continue cleaning without vacuums.
The custodial staff finished cleaning with the use of the emergency lights in the building.
Pollard was one of many students around campus who did not get the university’s emergency alerts via text message. When he arrived at his 7:45 a.m. Book of Mormon class, he found that it had been cancelled. Pollard was then told by a fellow student that an email had been sent out stating that classes had been cancelled. This email was one of the ways BYU-I students were notified of the power outage.
“The system is called Everbridge, and it’s a text, phone call and email that you can use three different ways,” said Wayne Clark, University Operations Managing Director. “When you register as a new student you are asked to opt in or opt out. So the students who are not receiving them have not opted in.”
This is the first time this system has been used.
“One of the nice things about it, [is that] most universities, they get 30 to 35 percent participation and students signing saying ‘yes, we’d like the notifications,’” Clark said. “At BYU-Idaho, we’re getting over 75 percent participation.”
Many students said that if it hadn’t been for the text messages they wouldn’t have known about their classes being canceled.
John Armbruster, a freshman studying economics, was getting ready for class when his roommate received the notification via text.
“I would have been really mad [if I had gone to class without knowing],” Armbruster said. “Oh well, good thing I did find out.”
While some students didn’t receive a text at all, others received 4-9 similar text message notifications.
Kimber Pogue, currently off-track, said she received 10 notifications during her nanny job in Indiana.
“The amount of text messages was kind of annoying,” Pogue said. “Especially because it was the same text message over and over, and I was like ‘OK I get the point.’”
Clark said that the system is programmed to send the same message until the receiver responds and confirms that he or she received the message.
“Luckily my friend [got the message],” said Jolene Svedin, a freshman
majoring in general studies. “I probably would have got to class and found
out, but it would have been a really cold walk.”
Classes resumed Monday morning by 11:30 a.m.