July 12: Update: Review of WatSAFE and the emergency response plan

To: Graduate students at the University of Waterloo

From: UWaterloo Communications

Date: Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Subject: Update: Review of WatSAFE and the emergency response plan

Update: Review of WatSAFE and the emergency response plan​​​​​​​

July 12, 2023

  • The University has conducted an internal review of the process which led to the delay in the use of the WatSAFE app on June 28
  • We are improving on those processes and will also examine other options for a campus alert system that would include multiple channels of communication
  • We are engaging an independent, third-party firm to conduct a review of the University’s overall emergency response plan

Good morning,
The hate-motivated attack which targeted gender expression and gender identity on June 28 has affected us all. We hope that you are continuing to take care of yourselves and each other, and that those in need are accessing the supports available in our community to help you process and heal after this tragic event.
Since the attack, we have taken several actions to review our emergency response systems.

Waterloo Regional Police Service and the University’s Special Constable Service arrived at Hagey Hall within minutes of the first 911 call on June 28 to quickly remove the threat to others. We are grateful to them, to the Region’s paramedic services, and to those faculty, staff, and students who were at Hagey Hall and acted bravely to help officers manage the emergency.

An independent, third-party firm has begun a comprehensive review of our overall emergency response plan, our emergency communications, our technology and IT systems, and our general emergency structures and processes.
We use WatSAFE, the emergency alert system, to send alerts and push notifications in order to provide information to our community. The University’s review of the use of the WatSAFE app on June 28 has determined that during this emergency, an immediate WatSAFE alert or lockdown procedure was not issued because the threat to the campus community was cleared quickly; however, follow-up communications to the broader community should have come sooner.
The internal review has identified that there are opportunities to advance our alert systems and processes. We are currently exploring additional options for our emergency alert system and will engage our community to understand their perspectives on what is required as we move forward in the process. This consultation will occur before the University selects a new system.
Every day, you bring your best to the University: your critical thinking, your ingenuity, and your creativity to help solve some of the most challenging problems of society. Please participate in the consultation and use those skills and insights to help continue to foster a safe campus community.
Thank you for standing together and supporting each other. We look forward to engaging with you directly at the UWaterloo Community Forums on Monday, July 17.


Vivek Goel, CM
President and Vice-Chancellor
James W.E. Rush
Vice-President, Academic & Provost

2023 communications to graduate students