"The monkey got out of the cage."
That's what thousands of students, faculty and staff members at University of Florida thought to themselves when they got the message through the school's emergency-alert text message system.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that university officials believe the message was sent by the former employee of the vendor the school uses for the emergency alert service.
The article says this is the first incident they have heard of where a campus emergency-alert system was wrongly used.
"It raises a concern for us that a former employee was able to still access the system," Stephen F. Orlando, a spokesman for the university told The Chronicle. "Clearly that's an issue that needs to be addressed and fixed."
The bizarre message left some frightened, and others confused.
"It was pretty scary at first," one freshman, Brendan Negron said in the article. "My first reaction was that maybe it was some kind of threat."
For the most part though, the alert systems seem helpful, especially in critical situations.
On Thursday, students at Virginia Tech were informed via text message that a homicide had occurred on campus. Students were sent a text message asking them to stay indoors.
Anthony Walker, the chief of police at Norfolk State University is a proponent of the alert systems.
"I have the responsibility to protect over 10,000 people on campus and this system has the capability of reaching thousands of people in a matter of seconds," he told a local television station.
The power to reach thousands in the case of a real emergency seems well worth it, despite the occasional monkey business.
This story, "University Text Message Alert System Abused" was originally published by thestandard.com.