Everything that Matters About the Presidential Alert

Jayna Rohslau, ‘22

October 2018

“I think it’s kind of ridiculous.”

“It’s dumb and unnecessary.”

“This is going to sound weird but I found it annoying.”

Such was the incredible diversity of opinions voiced by BHSEC 9th graders on the topic of the new presidential alert system.  Unless you live under a rock, you have likely heard of the policy, which is designed to alert civilians of national emergencies and released its first broadcast on Wednesday, Oct.3 to general public outcry.  BHSEC, of course, followed suit.

“I don’t really understand the purpose of the Presidential Alert,” admitted one student, taking a break from her mountain of Spanish homework in order to submit to a brief interrogation.  “I mean, what’s the point? If there are bombs raining down on our head, will we all get a text message that says: you’re in danger?”

The first message simply said: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System.  No action is needed.” It was sent at 2:18 pm to approximately 225 million hapless souls, or, according to Time magazine, about 75% of the U.S.’s population.  Considerately, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the agency in charge of the alert) rescheduled the practice date from Sept. 20 to Oct. 3 due to Hurricane Florence.  Inconsiderately, the alert was released during school hours for the pleasure and extreme enjoyment of students everywhere. The author of this article would like everyone to know that she was in the midst of taking a physics test at the time of the release.  

And so it went, a decidedly unpromising start to IPAWS(Integrated Public Alert and Warning System), laden with grumbles and dismissive hand gestures.  Some people construed it to be a way for the president to send ‘unblockable tweets’, and rebelled by shutting their phones off in a display of aversion to Trump.  There was even an SNL skit about it, fed by increasingly trivial bits of information. All in all, the media has come to several conclusions about the Presidential Alert system  (often reflected by BHSEC): -it is pointless -it is stupid -it has the word president in it, which must have something to do with Trump. And Trump=bad, so therefore we shouldn’t care about the system.  Right? Right?

Probably wrong.  But I have another physics test, so I can’t bring myself to care.