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Health & Wellness

Registration Block Begins for Students Without Emergency Information

Time is running out for students who haven’t provided a mobile phone number for the University’s emergency notification system and for those who haven’t submitted proof of immunizations to Student Health Services. Class registration for the spring semester, which begins October 24 for graduate students and October 28 for undergraduates, is now blocked for any students who are not in compliance. Those enrolled this semester who have not complied with the requirements will not be able to access the system to drop any current classes.

To date, about 73 percent of students have submitted their contact information and 86 percent have submitted proof of immunization. “It’s certainly not something we want to do, but something we feel compelled to do,” says Laurie Pohl, BU vice president for enrollment and student affairs, of the registration block. “This is really the one place we thought we could reach everyone with a consequence that matters.”

“We don’t want to punish anyone,” adds Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore. “But we do want them to realize the importance of the situation.”

While the immunization requirement is statewide, the emergency phone number request is new to BU this semester. Over the summer, the University implemented the Send Word Now system to alert students, faculty, and staff about campus emergencies. Students received a letter from Elmore and University Provost David Campbell in late August, informing them of the new compliance rules. This semester, Pohl says, her office has conducted several outreach efforts, including advertising in the Daily Free Press, distributing postcards at move-in, and going door-to-door in the residence halls. “We’ve made tremendous progress,” she says, “and we really want to give credit to the people who have paid attention. But 14 percent” — the percentage of students who have not yet provided immunization information —“is still thousands of students.”

The University tested its alert system on Friday, October 12, sending voice messages, text messages, or e-mails to approximately 42,000 students, staff, and faculty on the Charles River and Medical Campuses. The test was intended to reveal any system shortcomings, says Boston University Police Chief Thomas Robbins, and University leaders are currently reviewing Friday’s drill with Send Word Now to resolve any issues with distribution technology and the timing of the alerts. “We also tested our own capacity to respond to an emergency," Robbins says, "which I consider very much a success.”

Students who have provided their mobile phone numbers and did not receive a text message are asked to send an e-mail to swn@bu.edu with the message “Failed to receive SWN alert.” Students, staff, and faculty who did not receive an e-mail alert are asked to do the same; comments about the readability and effectiveness of the notification can also be sent to swn@bu.edu.

To comply with the immunization requirements, students with a record of having received the required shots should send it to Student Health Services, 881 Commonwealth Ave. For those unable to show proof of immunization, Student Health Services is offering a series of immunization clinics — on Monday, October 15, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Fitness and Recreation Center, 915 Commonwealth Ave. (enter from Buick Street), and on October 17, 18, and 19, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the George Sherman Union Link, 775 Commonwealth Ave. Costs vary and can be charged directly to a student account at all clinics. Students attending the clinic at FitRec may also pay by cash or credit card. More information about Boston University’s immunization requirements, the upcoming immunization clinics, and other campus health initiatives is available on the Student Health Services Web site.

Once students register their mobile phone numbers for the Send Word Now system via the Student Link, the registration block is lifted immediately. There is a delay in lifting the block for students showing late proof of immunizations, as Student Health Services must receive the documents and enter the data into the system.

Taylor McNeil can be reached at tmcneil@bu.edu. Jessica Ullian can be reached at jullian@bu.edu.