ASWSU President Riley Myklebust announced news of Thursday’s class cancellation at 1:42 p.m. on Wednesday with the student government’s Facebook page. The official WSU Alert announcement did not come out until more than an hour later.
Before the university made its official announcement, various Facebook users reacted to Myklebust’s announcement with disbelief. A number of people debated whether the news was a prank, lies or the truth.
WSU responded to the ASWSU announcement by posting a comment on the student government’s announcement that read, “We’ll be releasing OFFICIAL information in a while. Refer to alert.wsu.edu and to the WSU Facebook page.”
ASWSU’s announcement caused a great deal of confusion for students, staff and faculty, said Darin Watkins, executive director of WSU external communications.
“Riley was unfortunately unauthorized to make that announcement,” Watkins said. “It’s unfortunate because it caused a lot of problems for a number of offices with people who were flooded with phone calls for information, wanting to know if things had in fact been canceled. While we can appreciate trying to get information out in a timely fashion, there’s a time and a place and a proper channel for information of an emergency notice to go out.”
Myklebust said he was given permission to release the information by President Elson S. Floyd’s office.
“Having students see the information on the ASWSU Facebook page first was a good marketing tool,” Myklebust said. “Unfortunately, that alert wasn’t quite as close to our release as we would have liked it to be. Our phone rang many, many times and students didn’t believe us at first. We were all waiting for that alert system to come out as soon as possible.”
Connected with the release of the information was a contest, he said. Those who shared the post on Facebook would be put in a drawing to win a $100 gift certificate for The Bookie. The winner of the contest will be announced Friday.
So far, the announcement received about 630 shares and almost 550 likes by Facebook users. Myklebust said he believes this is the most social media interaction they have ever gotten as part of a promotional project.