Staying Safe

Alerts & Communications

The University of Chicago takes your safety very seriously. The University has multiple ways to communicate with you in the event of any serious or potentially serious situations or hazards that may affect you.


cAlert is the University’s emergency notification system. In a life-threatening situation that requires immediate action, cAlert sends every member of our community a short email message, or SMS text message and automated phone calls to those who sign up for expanded service. Students, faculty, other academic personnel, and staff of the University are automatically enrolled with the email address provided in the University directory. To ensure your contact information is up-to-date and to add other ways for the University to contact you in the event of an emergency, visit cAlert online.

Guidelines for Timely Security Alerts

Updated 8-26-16

The University of Chicago is committed to providing a secure environment for the campus community. As part of that effort, the University offers a variety of communications about safety issues, including a daily log of incidents handled by University police, periodic emails from the Department of Safety & Security leadership, cAlert messages that notify the campus community via phones, text messaging, email, and other channels of significant campus emergencies (Appendix IV), and timely security alerts, which are described below.

I. Policy

The University of Chicago issues timely security alerts when incidents reported to the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) or other Campus Security Authorities1 represent continuing threats to the campus community. The goal of sending a timely security alert is to give members of the campus community information that will allow them to adjust their behavior to protect their personal safety.

Decisions regarding whether to issue a timely security alert are made on a case-by-case basis by the Associate Vice President for Safety & Security (or designee), taking into account the nature and location of the crime and whether there is a continuing threat to the campus community. The Associate Vice President for Safety & Security (or designee) will consult with the Vice President for Communications (or designee) and the Dean of Students in the University (or designee) regarding the alert, unless time does not allow, and may consult with the Vice President and General Counsel (or designee) and the Title IX Coordinator for the University (or designee).

When enough details about the incident are known to provide useful information to the campus community, the Associate Vice President for Safety & Security (or designee) will send a timely security alert via the bulk email system and the Security Alert listserv. (A timely security alert via email is different from a cAlert, which is used only in the event of a significant campus emergency and employs multiple forms of instant communication, such as phone calls and text messages.2) Timely security alerts may be sent by the Vice President for Communications (or designee) or the Dean of Students in the University (or designee) if the incident is reported to a Campus Security Authority other than UCPD. For the University’s Centers abroad, timely security alerts will be sent by the Centers’ Directors (or designees), and for the Marine Biological Laboratory, timely security alerts will be sent by its Campus Security Manager or the Campus Security Officer on duty (or designee).

Timely security alerts will normally include the date, time, and a description of the incident, as well as other information that may aid in the prevention of similar crimes. Timely security alerts will not include the names or other identifying information of victims. An alert may not be sent if there are factors that reduce the level of threat to the community, such as an arrest, or if there is a risk of compromising law enforcement efforts or efforts to assist a victim. If a timely security alert is not issued, a report may be included in a security alert the next day, or may be included on the University’s Community Safety website.

II. Guidelines

In accordance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (“Clery Act”) and the Policy set forth above, timely security alerts will be issued for all Clery Act crimes occurring in Clery Act geography, which are reported to Campus Security Authorities and considered to represent a continuing threat to the campus community.3

Clery Act crimes include: aggravated assault, arson, burglary, dating violence, domestic violence, hate crimes, motor vehicle theft, murder and non-negligent manslaughter, negligent manslaughter, robbery, sex offenses (both forcible and non-forcible), and stalking.4

Clery Act geography includes: campus (including residence halls), non-campus buildings or property, and public property, as defined by the Clery Act.5

In addition to issuing timely security alerts as required by the Clery Act, the University may also issue timely security alerts in certain circumstances when non–Clery Act crimes occur and/or when crimes occur outside of Clery Act geography, but within the UCPD service area (37th to 64th Streets and Cottage Grove Avenue to Lake Shore Drive), and pose a continuing threat to the campus community. Examples of circumstances under which it may be determined that a timely security alert is warranted are as follows:

  • An individual is killed due to violence in the UCPD service area.
  • A violent crime, regardless of whether the crime is a Clery Act crime, occurs in the UCPD service area that exhibits one or more of the following characteristics:

    • It is part of a pattern of violent crimes, whether that pattern occurs in a single day or over an extended period of time;
    • It occurs during the day, defined as between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.; 

    • It occurs near high-traffic locations, such as a Metra stop; or

    • The victim is a child and it occurs near a school.


1. In addition to UCPD, the University’s Campus Security Authorities include: Deans of Students and their professional staffs, Deans-on-Call, Sexual Assault Deans-on-Call, academic advisers in all divisions, student organization advisers, College Housing staff, Graduate Student Housing managers, athletic coaches, and sport club advisers.

2. The Emergency Communications Plan and Evacuation Procedures are set forth in Appendix IV of the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.

3. Crimes that are reported to the Chicago Police Department, but not to UCPD or other Campus Security Authorities, normally will not be the subject of timely security alerts. Information regarding those crimes will be available online at

4. Under the Clery Act, crimes are classified in accordance with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (“FBI’s”) Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook. For sex offenses, the definitions from the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System are followed. Hate crimes are classified in accordance with the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines and Training Guide for Hate Crime Data Collection.

5. The Clery Act definitions for campus, non-campus, and public property can be found on the Crime Information and Statistics section of the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.

Receiving Security Alerts

Security alerts are sent through the University’s bulk email system to University members with CNet IDs. Anyone who is not affiliated with the University but interested in receiving security alerts can sign up at:

Emergency Phones

If you need to contact the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) while walking on campus or in the surrounding areas, look for an Emergency Phone with a blue light atop a white pole. When you press the red button inside the phone box, your location will automatically be transmitted to the UCPD. Whether you speak to the dispatcher or not, an officer or patrol car will immediately come to your location.

There are more than 300 Emergency Phones on and around the campus area. View the locations of the Emergency Phones online.

Emergency Management Website

The Emergency Management website is a resource the University community can use to receive information on how to prepare for emergencies. In the event of an emergency, information will be posted on this website.

Internal Public Address System

The University has more than a dozen facilities with an internal public address system capable of making mass notifications in large, public gathering areas within these facilities.