Stetson students receive security alert that was sent in error

Administrators at Stetson University in DeLand are trying to find out why an emergency alert went out to students Wednesday night, causing some tense moments for students and staff.

Bright yellow alerts lit up students and teachers phones across the campus.

"This is a Stetson Hatter Alert. An emergency is occuring on the Deland campus, seek shelther," it read.

Student Grace Christiansen said she sheltered in place.

"Locking all the doors and shutting all the lights off and staying in the room," she explained.

"It was 11 o'clock at night, and I thought something actually happened, so I was a little bit concerned. And I kept getting them. I got two to three of them over and over again," said student Rachel Tuning.

Later on in the night, another alert went out, which read, "No need to seek shelter. No emergency on campus. The phone lines are down but will follow up when phone lines are restored."

"It was an hour, hour-and-a-half," said  Stetson spokesperson Janie Graziani.

She said they were trying to tell students the Public Safety phone system on campus wasn't working. Instead, the wrong message went out.

"The system is preloaded with several different templates. But you can erase that template, whatever that template is and load in a brand new message, which is what we did. But somehow a template went out, instead of the message we had loaded into the system," Graziani said.

They are now investigating if this was human error or if there is a problem with the alert system.

"It's terrible to be scared like that in the middle of the night. Very sorry that that happened. It was beyond our control," Grazian added. "We don't know why it went out, but are working to figure out why it happened and make sure it doesn't happen again in the future."

Students hope so too, because in this environment, they said any kind of alert causes alarm.

"It was really scary," Christiansen said.

School administrators are not sure how long it will take to solve theproblem, but said they plan to email students explaining what happened.