Bomb threats spur new
class sites will be set
by Jenny Gerow
mid-term exams disrupted due to a bomb threat March 9, these
students tested their wits in a game of chess while waiting
for buildings on the South Lawn to reopen.
By Carol Wood
appeared to be one of those idyllic Lawn settings. Classes had
moved outside to enjoy an early spring day, groups spreading up
to the middle levels. Some students gathered in circles to participate
in animated discussions with professors, while others sat cross-legged
and hunched over to take exams.
few hundred feet away, toward the statue of Homer, the lower Lawn
was cordoned off with reams of yellow tape. Police officers kept
everyone but inspectors and their dogs from entering the horseshoe
of academic buildings.
three separate occasions earlier this month, threatening calls
were made to the University that resulted in the evacuation of
of Arts & Sciences. Each day the buildings remained closed
for nearly five hours while every room was searched.
students who had come prepared to take mid-term exams and to turn
in papers left frustrated and angry, unable to complete their
work or find their professors. Faculty and administrators also
were concerned about the disruption to academic activities, as
well as the considerable cost in time and manpower.
Thursday, March 7, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., four buildings
on the South Lawn were affected Old and New Cabell, Wilson
and Rouss halls. Approximately 8,000 students were attending some
300 classes in those buildings during that time. In addition,
350 faculty and 400 staff members work there.
is difficult to put a price tag on all the costs of the disruption
to the University, said Leonard W. Sandridge, executive
vice president and chief operating officer. What we
do know is that the cost to the University Police alone is $18,000
a day. Similar expenses were incurred by the State Police
for detectives, bomb specialists, and bomb-sniffing dogs at the
early last week, University administrators have been working on
a plan to prevent future class cancellations in the event of another
bomb threat and to decrease the chances of its happening
at all. Our goal is to stop these disruptive actions,
Sandridge said, and to make it clear to everyone that we
are moving ahead with both the investigation and preventative
planning. We want to have a plan that allows faculty and students
to get on with the business of teaching and learning. We also
want to make it clear that we will not tolerate this criminal
behavior in our community.
by Chris Myers
units were used to search the Grounds for bombs.
in a bomb threat is a class five felony offense, said Melissa
Police spokesperson. If convicted, one could serve up to 10
years in jail, she added, and restitution could well be part of
addition, such an offense can be brought before either the Honor
or the Judiciary committee, and might be cause for separation
from the University.
recent incidents which also include an earlier bomb threat
at the Aquatic and Fitness Center are under investigation,
and if suspects are identified, the University plans to prosecute
to the full extent of the law. We hope that as responsible
members of the University community, students who have information
about any of these bomb threats will report it to the proper authorities,
of Sandridges strategy is to communicate directly with faculty
and students about what happened and to lay out the first steps
of a plan dealing with future events. When faculty members returned
from spring break Sunday, they received an e-mail message from
Gene Block. Students received a similar message from Patricia
Lampkin, interim vice
president for student affairs.
note to faculty members asked that each professor determine an
emergency meeting site where she or he could gather quickly with
students to give them instructions about a venue for completing
the days classwork.
members would then direct students to an alternative site they
had chosen for completing the class. (Sandridge has charged a
work group to clarify the classroom relocation plan.)
note to students stated that classes would not be cancelled in
the event of further bomb threats and explained the alternative
classroom plan. Both notes directed people to the Universitys
bomb threat protocol, which is posted at Top News Daily, http://www.
the event of future bomb threats, information about building evacuation
and closings will be updated on Top News Daily and via the Universitys
two snow lines: 924-SNOW and 243-SNOW.