When to use the MoBull, and when not to

When University Police discovered a man sleeping in his car on campus in possession of a .38 caliber handgun, a shotgun and a knife last month, it sent out a mass e-mail to students, staff and faculty about seven hours after the arrest.

The e-mail read, in part: “The incident highlights the ongoing importance of awareness regarding on-campus safety issues. It is also a reminder of the need for the USF community to take advantage of such personal safety measures as the MoBull emergency alert system.”

When an armed thief walked through an open back door at the Library’s Starbucks and robbed the coffee shop at gunpoint last week, UP chose not to alert students that there was an armed robber loose on campus.”In this case, there’s no action for the student to take,” said UP spokeswoman Meg Ross. “When a student can take an action, then it rises to the level of MoBull messenger.”

That reasoning doesn’t sit well with graduate student Michelle Oleson, who said there are plenty of actions a student might take.

“Maybe I wouldn’t go to Starbucks,” she said. “Or maybe I would go home or just stay in my dorm.”

MoBull messenger, a free service that sends text messages and e-mails highlighting activity around campus, was created, in part, to announce school closures and weather warnings.

But after the massacre at Virginia Tech, USF announced it would use MoBull to alert students of emergencies on campus, urging them to sign up as soon as possible to receive the latest safety information andnotices.

“It seems (USF) didn’t think this through,” Oleson said. “To me, it seems more likely to stumble upon a robbery than come across a homicidal, suicidal maniac.”

By the time UP arrived at the Library, the thief had already escaped, Ross said, and there wasn’t really a warranted reason to alert the student body.

“It just wasn’t that type of incident,” Ross said.

Meanwhile, no arrests have been made in the robbery and detectives are still investigating, Ross said. UP has no new information that can be released.