Deciding how and when to warn students about incidents on campuses is a surprisingly complicated task. Notifications of potential danger vary widely among colleges around the country -- and it's a process that Temple has been tweaking for years. In light of what happened Friday night, Leone said, officials will tweak it again.
"The real key here is that purpose of an alert is not a news source but a public safety directive — asking people to change a behavior," said Sarah Powell, Temple's director of emergency management. "If some kind of incident occurs but no change of behavior is required, we won't send an alert out."
So a school might choose to send out a text alert for a crime that isn't covered under the Clery Act — or warn students about, say, a rash of robberies just off campus, even though the area isn't covered by campus police.
A Daily News report in 2014 noted that after a Temple student was hit in the face with a brick a block off campus, the university did not issue a statement on the incident for three days. The newspaper found that Penn and La Salle University did not send alerts about two violent crimes involving students that took place off campus in the last several years.