Sirens blared across campus. Phones began pinging with a warning: There’s been an assault on campus. Seek shelter and stay there.
Students rushed to seek shelter, not knowing the severity of or the exact location of the threat. The bustling first-day-of-school campus became as silent and eerie as a ghost town.
One student, Kenny Allen Mitchell, sat in the library. He noticed several people leaving, but he assumed they were headed to the next block of classes. He stood up to print something and heard a couple of women whispering back and forth, saying that something had happened.
On his way back to his seat, a man walked up to him and told him that Mitchell needed to get his stuff and leave. Immediately.
“It was really surreal,” said Mitchell. “I thought, ‘Oh my god, it’s happening here.’”
Everyone gathered in the back of the library, left to wonder what was going to happen.
On the other side of campus, Vianna Isbister sat in the Campus Center lab with three friends. They couldn’t see out of the high windows in the room to see if a threat was near. Isbister commented that one of the doors in the room didn’t even have a lock on it. They had to barricade it.
Isbister worried about her freshman brother, whose entire college journey began on Monday. She worried for the students who didn’t know the layout of campus well or students that didn’t have access to the university’s warning systems.
All this time, they weren’t even entirely sure what was going on.
The threat was eventually neutralized, and students were told to resume their day as normal. But the incident raises several questions about the university’s policies in regard to threats like this. Both Mitchell and Isbister commented that they thought the school handled the situation well, although the text messages were vague and lacked substance.
The two of them also mentioned that students didn’t know how to react.
Isbister said that she and her friends were alone, without a faculty member, during the incident. She stressed that students need to know what to do in a situation like this one. She commented that many students aren’t aware of emergency exits in buildings, especially with all of the construction around campus. She believes students need to be given a plan in the event of such an emergency.
“People weren’t aware of how to go about handling it,” said Isbister. “People didn’t know about staying away from windows, about locking doors and being quiet and hiding. People were talking in the room next to me as if nothing was going on. And then we weren’t aware of the severity of the situation … It wasn’t severe, but it could’ve been.”
Fortunately, the situation wasn’t anywhere near as catastrophic as it could have been. However, this incident brings a lot of questions to the table about how we, as a student body, should react in the face of such a terrifying event.