Campus security using social media for safety

by Amanda Hintgen

Simpson College Security is now utilizing social media to keep the campus informed.

Students should expect to see information on the social media sites like parking updates, weather alerts and newsletters.

“It’s fast, it reaches out to people in seconds,” junior Gastón Akerman said. “Students check their Facebook and Twitter more often than their Simpson webmail, so it definitely is an advantage.”

Akerman started working for Security in May 2010 and is currently the person behind the social media.

“I started it a couple months ago when the City of Indianola created its own Twitter account to announce snow ordinances,” Akerman said. “I realized how big of an impact would be to have social media for Campus Security.”

“This year, we were like ‘You know what? Let’s just go ahead and go full board with it,'” Director of Campus Security Chris Frerichs said. “Of course, other places on campus were already doing that, so that we saw how to utilize it. I know CAB, admissions, Brian Steffen with communications and a few others.”

Security started off with Facebook and Twitter and now has progressed even farther. Security also has a WordPress blog at

“We (Security) also use YouTube to host videos,” Akerman said. “I’m currently thinking of Tumblr as well, but I’d like to see more people on the other accounts first.”

The Simpson Security account, @SimpsonSecurity, already has 175 followers, while the Simpson Security Facebook, SC Campus Security, has 30 likes.

“The goal is to get as many followers as we can,” Frerichs said

Simpson Alert For Emergencies (SAFE) is linked with the social media sites but SAFE is still the official form of communication.

“If it is a full blown emergency we would start it through our official school notification,” Frerichs said.

Students can access their SAFE accounts by going to My StormFront and choosing the general information tab and emergency alert information. Emergencies are announced through text, call and email. It’s important for students to keep the contact information updated.

Akerman has received emails from colleges in New York and Minnesota questioning the advantages and the disadvantages of the new social media alerts. To Akerman’s knowledge, there are no other four-year private colleges in Iowa utilizing social media in the same format as Simpson.

The goal of security is to ensure physical and emotional safety. Security is a part of Student Development and all staff members go through an application process and training.

“The staff is trained to deal with certain situations like attempted suicide, disorderly conduct, fire alarms and so on,” Akerman said. “It is not all about breaking up parties and writing parking tickets. Everything we do has an educational purpose, but unfortunately not many see it like that.”

Working for Security gives a lot of experience handling a multitude of situations. It’s important that students realize that Security is a job and that Security is here to help protect and monitor the campus.

“He (Akerman) does get paid when he is working here, but to tell you the truth I think he does a lot on his own when he is out and about,” Frerichs said.

Students seem to believe that what Security is doing is a good idea, given the amount of time student spend on social media sites.

“Twitter and Facebook is a very reliable source for college students because we spend a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook,” freshmen Paige Foderburg said. “Therefore, we can get updated with important information just not through our email.”

Students are very involved in social media whether it is through a computer, laptop, iPad, iTouch or cell phone.

“It is a good thing because I can send security’s twitter updates to my phone in case there is something important I need to know,” freshmen Nicole Pirie said.

Akerman gives some last advice to the student population concerning security.

“Lying and not cooperating will get you in trouble,” Akerman said. “Trust the staff. The ultimate goal is not to punish but make Simpson a better and safer experience to everyone.”