How Duke’s two emergency responses to UNC’s lockdowns compare

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill experienced its second lockdown in three weeks, following reports of an “armed, dangerous person on or near campus” Wednesday afternoon.

Alert Carolina’s first announcement on Wednesday was at 12:54 p.m., and the first DukeAlert was sent 44 minutes later at 1:38 p.m. The Wednesday DukeAlert was delivered nearly two hours faster than the DukeAlert responding to the Aug. 28 shooting at UNC, which came almost three hours after the initial Alert Carolina.

In both responses, Duke quickly stopped the Robertson Express, which runs between Duke and UNC. The Robertson Express was stopped Wednesday around 1 p.m., according to Greg Phillips, executive director of editorial content and media relations.

At 1:35 p.m., the University published an article on Duke Today, a news service produced jointly by two University communications teams, which stated that Duke stopped the Robertson Express and urged people to stay away from the UNC campus until an all-clear signal was given. 

The Duke Today article responding to the Aug. 28 shooting was published nearly two hours after the initial Alert Carolina. 

The 1:38 p.m. DukeAlert, which was sent to faculty, staff and students registered via Work@Duke or DukeHub, conveyed the same information as the Duke Today article. 

“Our priority is to ascertain the facts as we understand them, the whereabouts of our students and the level of cause for concern on campus,” wrote Frank Tramble, vice president of communications, marketing and public affairs. “On this occasion we were able to gather and confirm information more quickly and therefore communications went out quicker.”

He added that the University relies on “public information about situations off-campus because those details are not directly communicated to [the University].”

Tramble’s response was similar to his from Aug. 28, when he noted that the priority became “taking the time necessary to ensure any information we shared was accurate and confirmed” after the University learned about reports of an armed and dangerous person on UNC’s campus. 

After Alert Carolina issued an all-clear signal Wednesday at 2:10 p.m., a DukeAlert indicating the same was sent at 2:17 p.m.

Following the Aug. 28 shooting at UNC, Duke students expressed frustrations about the University’s delayed emergency notifications for its student body. 

While Tramble previously wrote that a Duke Today article and an email sent to select faculty, leadership and administrators “informed the entire Duke community,” several students told The Chronicle that they learned about the Aug. 28 shooting from non-University sources, sometimes hours after the initial Alert Carolina. 

Some dual-campus Robertson Scholars, who take classes on both campuses, were planning on arriving at UNC’s campus before learning about the Aug. 28 shooting.

“Last month’s incident at UNC also reinforced and refocused our commitment to communicating about incidents elsewhere that could affect the safety of members of the Duke community while they are off campus,” Tramble wrote. 


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Audrey Wang | Editor-in-Chief

Audrey Wang is a Trinity junior and editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 119th volume.

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