Campus Emergency Communications Plan

We have two major components to our emergency communications plan. First is PLU Alert. This is our text, voice message, and email notification system. All PLU students, staff, and faculty are automatically enrolled in the system. Second is our campus loudspeaker emergency notification system. Outdoor speakers have been installed to cover a majority of campus, with some buildings having interior loudspeakers as well.

Many of the Blue Phone poles around campus were installed over 25 years ago. Originally, they served two functions. First, the poles are equipped with a telephone line and served as a means to contact Campus Safety while walking across campus or driving into a parking lot. When the button is pressed, a phone call is made to the Campus Safety office. Second, the poles had an external speaker that was used to broadcast messages. In recent years the poles have become extremely unreliable. Inspections have found that the majority of the cable/components are aging and need costly replacements.

It has been determined that moving to a digital/IP based system is more reliable and effective. The Blue Phones were evaluated for possible retrofitting for new digital equipment; however, to do such a retrofit would cost over $200,000. This led us to purchase the new system of speakers on the outside of buildings.

Blue Phones were originally installed prior to the widespread use of cell phones. We believe that calling for assistance via your cell phone is a much safer approach than going to a stationary location and pressing a button. If a caller uses the Campus Safety phone app to contact Campus Safety their GPS position will be automatically shared. Using your phone also allows you to stay mobile if the situation requires.

Rather than dedicating additional resources (money and staff time) to repairing the Blue Phones, PLU is committing to expanding our new system with additional Call for Help stations inside and outside of buildings. In the coming weeks, PLU will begin to remove the existing Blue Phone poles around campus.

If you have any questions about PLU’s emergency communications plan please contact Tara Simmelink, Director of Campus Safety at 253-535-8787 or