New texting system kicks off Saturday

In an effort to more effectively monitor rowdy behavior during football games, the Department of Public Safety has teamed up with the Office of Student Affairs to offer an anonymous texting application that will alert authorities to inappropriate fan behavior.

The application, which will be available starting at Saturday’s game against San Jose State, will allow fans to notify DPS of any unruly or disruptive behavior through a text, instead of calling or looking for officers patrolling the stands.

“We already had a phone system, so it just seems like a logical next step to add texting to the phone capabilities,” said DPS Chief Carey Drayton. “In the crowded Coliseum, it’s probably easier to articulate what you want to say in a text.”

Any visitor to the Coliseum who feels a fan’s behavior is getting out of hand can text the number 274637 with “TC4T” in the body of the message along with a description of the situation and the location. DPS will then send an officer to handle the situation.

Lynette Merriman, senior associate dean of students for Student Affairs, said texts sent from football games will go to DPS first, and Student Affairs will be called in if DPS determines they need extra resources.

“We partner with DPS in a lot of our endeavors,” said Merriman. “The text will first go to DPS. If Public Safety realizes that the support and resources of Student Affairs would help in the response to that student, we will be notified right away.”

The texting service is being offered under the umbrella of the Trojans Care for Trojans program. Launched last October, TC4T gives students the ability to anonymously alert Student Affairs about students in need of counseling so administrators and faculty can take measures to help them. Formally adding DPS to TC4T will help widen Student Affairs’ reach to include more immediate situations, such as those at football games.

Many students said they thought the texting system would be effective in the regular reserved seating but that it might be misused in the student section.

“I think people might abuse it,” said Emily Levitan, a junior majoring in communication and theatre. “I feel like it wouldn’t be used the way they want it to.”

Some, like Blaise Brunda, said they worried that texting would not work in the Coliseum, where many providers do not get service.

“How would [students] even know that they are supposed to text to begin with?” said Brunda, a senior majoring in business administration. “And there’s the fact that we don’t get cell reception. I never get it.”

Drayton said there would be an advertisement during the game to tell students about the texting system and the number they should send messages to.

He also added that students can continue using the old way of reporting rowdy fans by searching out an officer in the stands if their cell phone does not have service in the Coliseum.

“If a phone doesn’t work you can get up and find someone in a yellow jacket or uniform,” Drayton said. “I don’t control all aspects of technology. I can’t control what Verizon and AT&T do or what kind of service they provide on any given day.”

According to Drayton, the Coliseum Commission is working to improve phone problems with many big providers, and the situation might improve throughout the season.

To further ensure safety at the games, DPS has also added a surveillance camera to the Coliseum to specifically monitor areas that have seen a higher level of unruly behavior.

“After someone reports this, we can keep the camera in that area for a little bit of time so that if there is any retaliation in that area, we’ll have it on tape,” Drayton said. “We already have an operational video that we scan the crowd with.”