UT-Brownsville Using Text Message to Warn Students of Violence

UT-Brownsville is using a new tactic to keep its students safe from violence across the border: text messaging.

Students, faculty and staff at the school are being asked to enter their cell phone numbers in a university database, so whenever drug violence explodes near the campus, warnings can be text-blasted out.

The plan comes after a particularly scary incident a couple weeks ago caused university officials to cancel weekend classes.

Hair Balls wrote about that gun battle, but, basically, 55 people, including a cartel boss and journalist, were killed in Matamoros, Mexico, which is about half a mile from the UT-Brownsville campus. When police heard the gun fight from the university's soccer fields, they decided to send students and faculty home.

Of course, that took some time, but with the new text messaging, when gunfights break out in the future, classes can be canceled and students can be put on lockdown in a much timelier fashion. That's the hope, at least.

We called the university and the university's police department, but anyone who can answers questions about the new text system is out until Monday.

We also tried to contact (without luck) someone from the University of Texas System, because we're wondering if the cartels have anything to do with the recent announcement that the UT System is ending its partnership with UT-Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, a community college that shares the Brownsville campus.

According to a November 10 story in the Austin American-Statesman, the UT System will be out of Brownsville by September 2015 because of differences "on questions of governance, admissions, finance and other matters."

Perhaps "other matters" is almost-daily drug violence that erupts near the campus. As Hair Balls noted in its November 8 story, even before the latest incident, students were warned not to leave their dorm rooms when bullets reportedly fired from Mexico hit a building on campus.

Maybe the UT System just realizes that it may be difficult to attract students to a campus in the middle of a drug war. 

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