BU Alert FAQs

What is BU Alert?

BU Alert is an emergency notification system that will help ensure rapid and reliable mass communication to students, faculty, and staff. The BU Alert system is designed to communicate with cell phones (text and voice messages), landlines, e-mail systems, and pagers during a crisis or time-sensitive situation on the Boston University Charles River and Medical campuses. In certain cases, BU Alert has the capability of allowing recipients to provide responses to messages received.

I am a new undergraduate BU student; how do I sign up for BU Alert?

The information provided on these pages is intended to enhance your understanding of the University’s emergency notification system. You will receive instructions from the Admissions Office soon, regarding how to establish your BU login. Once you have a BU login account you will be able to complete the BU Alert sign up process.

Why does BU want my cell phone number?

Boston University will use your cell phone number to communicate with you via text messaging or (in certain cases) by voice messaging in the event of a campus emergency. The system might be used, for example, to alert the Boston University community of an imminent hurricane or blizzard.

What else will I get on this system?

The only messages you will receive via BU Alert will be notifications from Boston University concerning an emergency or critical incident on or near campus that may affect you and that is deemed significant enough by the University’s Emergency Management and Response Team to warrant contacting you directly to ensure your personal safety, and concerning system test messages (described below). All personal information is kept absolutely confidential within Boston University and the BU Alert systems.

How will I be notified?

You will receive messages through your phone and via e-mail sent to your Boston University e-mail address.

When will I receive an alert message?

You will receive a message when a situation arises that disrupts normal University operations and that may place students, faculty, staff, visitors, or property at risk. The University’s Emergency Management and Response Team will send out a BU Alert notification message only after carefully assessing a situation and determining that it is serious enough to warrant universal notification.

What should I do when I get a message?

There are three things you should do when you receive a BU Alert notification message:

  1. Read the message! Don’t ignore it!
  2. Alert other people. During classes, professors may have their cell phones turned off. If you’re in a classroom, please advise the professor so that he or she may assist you in taking appropriate action. If you’re in your residence, let those you live with know about the alert. If you’re at work, let your coworkers know about the alert. It’s very important to help spread word of the emergency notification!
  3. Follow the instructions given with the message. The instructions will be direct and specific to the particular situation. Be sure to follow them carefully. Do not deviate from the instructions provided. DO NOT CALL THE BOSTON UNIVERSITY POLICE DEPARTMENT WITH QUESTIONS EXCEPT IN CASE OF EMERGENCY OR IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER! If the situation requires it, additional messages will be transmitted to update you.

When and where can I get updated information on the emergency?

Once an incident occurs and the Boston University Emergency Management and Response Team is operational, relevant incident information will be made available as soon as possible on the Boston University home page, the home page for BU Today, and on the Boston University Emergency Management web page. On the Emergency Management web page, the very latest information will be provided in the upper right-hand section of the page. If additional information about the incident is warranted, you will be provided with additional instructions and/or directed to another link.

On the Boston University Medical Campus’s home page, you will find a section called “Emergency Disaster Communication” that will give you the same updated information concerning emergencies that you receive via BU Alert.

Will Boston University conduct tests of the BU Alert system, and if so, when?

Boston University will periodically conduct tests of the BU Alert notification system to ensure that the system is operating properly. You will be given ample advance notice of any tests.

I understand that multiple text messages could be sent for the same alert. Why would this happen?

Wireless text devices such as pagers and mobile phones have small screens that accept as few as 40 characters. In order to deliver a complete message to recipients with small screens, BU Alert divides a message into “segments” small enough to be accepted individually by the recipient’s wireless text device. The system then automatically sends the “segments” in order until the complete message is delivered.

Depending on how your individual cellular provider transmits messages and the text messaging capabilities of your particular device, you may notice that text messages have the following notation, “1/2” or “2/2”, as part of the message indicating the number of segments and the order in which to read them. When reading your text messages, it’s very important to read the messages in order; for example, segment 1/2 would be read before segment 2/2. Reading the segments in the order that they are delivered will help ensure that you fully understand the message.

If I change my cell phone number, how do I update the BU Alert System with my new number?

Simply go to the Personal Information section on either the Boston University Student Link or Employee Link and update the information there.