Saturday, April 21, 2012

important dates #2

An update on my progress of trying to heighten awareness regarding a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States.  My second round of letters concerning the prospect of the artificially generated stampede were sent via the U.S. postal service.

On April 20, 2012, I sent a follow-up letter with the following content:

In a letter dated March 1, 2012, I informed you and your peers of the potential for artificially generated stampedes in NCAA Division I football stadiums.  I would like to thank the presidents, chancellors, legal counsel and police departments that responded.  I specifically appreciate those who had the courage to respond in writing.*  I'm well aware of potential liability concerns and the difficulty in assessing risk management for a hypothetical national security issue. 

I received a letter dated April 12, 2012, from David A. Bergeron, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Planning and Innovation from the Office of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education.  I will furnish you a copy of this letter upon request.  Currently, I have received no response from the Department of Homeland Security or the Federal Communications Commission. 

All those who responded expressed a deep concern for general campus safety.  "We take these matters very seriously," was a common theme.  Many claimed confidence in their campus alert systems.  Some pointed to stadium evacuation plans in the event of emergency situations or inclement weather.  But only a few attempted to address the unique problems associated with the artificially generated stampede.

    •      The potential for hacking or intentional misuse of any existing campus text alert system.  Due to their wider accessibility, socially driven media platforms such as Twitter represent another area of concern.

    •      The acquisition of cloned cell phone lists linked to students, university employees and/or season ticket holders.  A spoofed (disguised) message could easily be configured to appear as though it was sent from a campus emergency alert system.

    •      A message originating from a wireless carrier.  You may recall the December 12, 2011, "Civil Emergency: Take Shelter Now" alert sent to Verizon customers in central New Jersey.  Termed a "malicious hoax" by Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden, the event remains unexplained. Although an apology was issued, there has been no admission of negligence or responsibility.

While you may have sufficient confidence in your own campus alert system, your security could be compromised by mere association with the wider NCAA Division I community.  We live in an era of breaking news and instant, personalized communication.  Because many college football games overlap, revelations of a stampede at one or more stadiums could trigger additional stampedes, creating a domino or cascade effect.

Furthermore, most stadium emergency evacuation protocols hinge upon a single, outdated assumption - that your incident commander has ultimate control over the content, timing and delivery of the evacuation order.

Due to this profoundly changed dynamic in stadium security, I would encourage you to consider these recommendations:

    •    Acknowledge and prepare for an unpleasant reality.  In the event of an artificially generated stampede, any emergency evacuation protocol would most certainly be rendered useless.

    •     Request written confirmation from your emergency alert provider stating their systems are incapable of being hacked or manipulated.  There is no margin for error.    

    •     Assess the security of any cell phone lists associated with students, employees and season ticket holders.        

    •    Be cognizant of the timing and context of official university social media updates.

    •     Employ a looped message via the public address system warning fans of the possibility of an artificially generated stampede.          
    •     Include an assumption of risk disclaimer on the ticket stub similar to a foul ball or broken bat warning: Cellular communication devices can be used to create artificially generated stampedes.  If you receive a message demanding an immediate evacuation, wait for official confirmation from the public address system.

    •     Conduct general awareness campaigns as a matter of policy.  A simple slogan such as "Think before you run" could prove very effective in thwarting a text-induced stampede. 

An event of this nature would likely not be a hoax or accident.  It would be executed with malicious intent.  Crowded college football stadiums provide one of the most easily recognizable targets.  As the leaders of the universities who put people into these crowded and therefore potentially dangerous environments, you have a moral obligation to warn people about the dangers of panic-laden text messages.  We need to raise awareness before a catastrophe transpires.  There will be no dress rehearsal. 

I believe that the federal government will not address this issue until after a disaster has occurred.  Therefore, I would implore university leadership to work with each other and exercise their considerable influence with state and local governments.  It is imperative to devise a time-sensitive game plan.  I am willing to meet with you personally to review this matter.  Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns. 

This potential tragedy can be averted.


Eric Saferstein
contact information omitted

cc: NCAA Division I leadership

*  Clemson University
    Duke University
    Eastern Michigan University
    Rutgers University
    San Jose State University
    The Ohio State University
    United States Air Force Academy
    United States Military Academy
    University of Cincinnati
    University of Georgia
    University of Missouri
    University of Nebraska
    University of New Mexico
    University of Oregon
    University of Southern California
    University of Virginia
    University of Washington
    Virginia Tech
    West Virginia University

It was sent to the following 118 individuals:

President Barbara Couture, New Mexico State University
President M.R.C. Greenwood, University of Hawaii
President William P. Leahy, Boston College
President V. Lane Rawlins, University of North Texas
Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr., Texas Christian University
President Eugene G. Sander, University of Arizona
President Robert M. Berdahl, University of Oregon
President Nathan O. Hatch, Wake Forest University
President Rodney A. Erickson, Penn State
President Bernie Machen, University of Florida
President Kirk H. Shulz, Kansas State University
President Eric J. Barron, Florida State University
President G.P. "Bud" Peterson, University of Georgia Tech
President Burns Hargis, Oklahoma State University
President John G. Peters, University of Northern Illinois
President John C. Hitt, University of Central Florida
President Bob Kustra, Boise State University
President Robert E. Witt, University of Alabama
President John D. Welty, Fresno State University
President Wallace D. Loh, University of Maryland
President Joseph Savoie, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, University of California, Berkeley
Chancellor David Ward, University of Wisconsin
Chancellor Nancy Cantor, Syracuse University
Chancellor Randy Woodson, North Carolina State University
President Eli Capilouto, University of Kentucky
President William Powers, Jr., University of Texas
President Mark E. Keenum, Mississippi State University
President Lester A. Lefton, Kent State University
Chancellor Steve Ballard, East Carolina University
President Mary Ellen Mazey, Bowling Green State University
Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michael C. Gould, U.S. Air Force Academy
President Mary Jane Saunders, Florida Atlantic University
Chancellor Brady J. Deaton, University of Missouri
President Mark B. Rosenberg, Florida International University
President Ken Starr, Baylor University
Chancellor Philip DiStefano, University of Colorado
President David L. Boren, University of Oklahoma
President R. Gerald Turner, Southern Methodist University
President Lloyd A. Jacobs, University of Toledo
Provost Patrica E. Beeson, University of Pittsburgh
President Gary A. Randsell, Western Kentucky University
President Michael Young, University of Washington
President Gregory Geoffroy, Iowa State University
President Stephen J. Kopp, Marshall University
President Daniel D. Reneau, Louisiana Tech University
President Sidney A. McPhee, Middle Tennessee State University
President Guy Bailey, Texas Tech University
President Jay Gogue, Auburn University
President George E. Ross, Central Michigan University
Chancellor Holden Thorp, University of North Carolina
President M. Duane Nellis, University of Idaho
President Sally Mason, University of Iowa
President R. Bowen Loftin, Texas A&M University
President Charles Steger, Virginia Tech
President Cecil O. Samuelson, Brigham Young University
President Carol Garrison, University of Alabama Birmingham
President Shirley C. Raines, The University of Memphis
President Amy Weaver Hart, Temple University
President C.L. Max Nikias, University of Southern California
President Scott S. Cowen, Tulane University
President Marc Johnson, University of Nevada, Reno
President Nick J. Bruno, The University of Louisiana at Monroe
President Elson S. Floyd, Washington State University
President James F. Barker, Clemson University
President Michael J Hogan, University of Illinois
President Michael A. McRobbie, Indiana University
Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, University of Kansas
Chancellor Harvey Perlman, University of Nebraska
Superintendent LTG David H. Huntoon, Jr., United States Military Academy
President May Sue Coleman, University of Michigan
President James P. Clements, West Virginia University
Superintendent Vice Admiral Michael H. Miller, United States Naval Academy
Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek, University of Tennessee
President Gregory H. Williams, University of Cincinnati
President John I. Jenkins, University of Notre Dame
President E. Gordon Gee, The Ohio State University
President James Ramsey, University of Louisville
President Roderick J. McDavis, Ohio University
President Elliot Hirshman, San Diego State University
President Judy Genshaft, University of South Florida
Chancellor Dave Gearhart, University of Arkansas
President Susan Herbst, University of Connecticut
President Edward J. Ray, Oregon State University
President David W. Leebron, Rice University
President A. Lorris Betz, University of Utah
President Martha D. Saunders, Univeristy of Southern Mississippi
President Renu Khator, University of Houston
President Stan L. Albrecht, Utah State University
Chancellor Gene D. Block, University of California, Los Angeles
President France A. Cordova, Purdue University
President Richard L. McCormick, Rutgers University
President Morton Schapiro, Northwestern University
President Susan Martin, Eastern Michigan University
President Neal Smatresk, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
President Michael F. Adams, University of Georgia
President Jo Ann M. Gora, Ball State University
President Teresa Sullivan, University of Virginia
President Steadman Upman, University of Tulsa
President Anthony A. Frank, Colorado State University
President Lou Anna K. Simon, Michigan State University
President Mohammad Qayoumi, San Jose State University
President John Hennessy, Stanford University
President Luis Proenza, University of Akron
President Diana Natalicio, University of Texas at El Paso
President Michael M. Crow, Arizona State University
President Donna E. Shalala, University of Miami
President Eric W. Kaler, University of Minnesota
Chancellor Mike Martin, Louisiana State University
President David J. Schimdly, University of New Mexico
President Satish K. Tripathi, University at Buffalo
Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos, Vanderbilt University
Chancellor Daniel W. Jones, University of Mississippi
Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr., Troy University
President John M. Dunn, Western Michigan University
President Richard H. Brodhead, Duke University
President Tom Buchanan, University of Wyoming
President Harris Pastides, University of South Carolina
President David C. Hodge, Miami University

Arkansas State University Chancellor G. Daniel Howard was purposely omitted because my previous attempt to notify him was unsuccessful.

The content of my first letter can be viewed here.

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