UT Alert and Safety Notices 101

The UT Police Department has received some questions about how they notify students about emergency situations that occur on or around our campus. There is also ongoing confusion about the difference between UT Alert text and e-mail messages and the e-mails that everyone receives that always start with “Safety Notice” in the subject line.

When will I receive a UT Alert?

A UT Alert text and e-mail message will be sent in situations when there is an immediate threat to the health and safety of students or employees on the UT campus. UT Alerts are reserved for incidents that are critical in nature and require your immediate action. Examples of situations in which a UT Alert likely will be issued include a building fire, a hazardous material spill or leak impacting a large area, a severe weather-related threat, or an active shooter on campus.

All students, faculty, and staff are now automatically registered to receive UT Alert e-mails at their UT e-mail account. Faculty, staff and students must subscribe to receive a UT Alert text message on their mobile device. Depending on the situation, the university may also post UT Alerts to the @UTKnoxville Twitter account and the main page of the UT website.

To get UT Alerts delivered to your desktop computer, download Alertus from the OIT downloads page.

When will I receive a Safety Notice e-mail?

A Safety Notice will always arrive in your UT e-mail account from the UT Police Department and have a subject line that reads “Safety Notice.”

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires the university to alert the campus community to specific crimes in a timely manner to aid in the prevention of similar crimes. A Safety Notice is sent when:

  • A (Clery Act) crime is reported to UT Police either directly or indirectly through a report to a campus security authority (faculty or staff on campus who are required to report the basic details of crimes that are reported to them) or a local law enforcement authority.
  • The crime occurred within the university’s Clery Act geography (i.e., on campus, in or on a non-campus building or property in use or controlled by the university)
  • UT Police determines there is a continuing threat to the safety of UT students and employees.

Police will often share the same information included in the Safety Notice by distributing or posting fliers at or near the location of the incident and by posting notices to UTPD’s website and social media accounts.

Why do I sometimes get both a UT Alert and a Safety Notice and other times only one or the other?

The university will sometimes send a follow-up Safety Notice e-mail to all students, faculty, and staff after a UT Alert has been sent. While they are often similar, Safety Notice e-mails are sent separately through UT’s e-mail system. The e-mails may include more information than was available when the UT Alert text and e-mail message were sent.

On the other hand, there may be situations when the campus community should be made aware of a crime on campus, but the circumstances do not require an immediate action. In other words, UT Police is not asking students, faculty, and staff to stay away from a specific area or to shelter in place due to dangerous conditions. In those cases, a Safety Notice e-mail is the only message UT Police will send.

Why do I sometimes not receive a UT Alert or Safety Notice at all?

In order for a UT Alert or a Safety Notice to go out, the crime:

  • must be a Clery reportable crime (visit the Clery Act website and click on the Reportable Crimes, Definitions, and Locations tab);
  • poses a serious or ongoing threat; and
  • must occur on UT-owned or controlled property, as defined by the Clery Act.

It’s important to remember that UT Police uses all available methods of notification to keep you informed about potential threats, but it’s up to you to remain aware of your surroundings and to make good decisions based on the circumstances.

For more information about UT Alert, visit the UT Alert FAQ page.

For more information on the Clery Act, visit UT’s Clery website.