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Nationwide campus bomb threats explode

October 11, 2012

 

ALLISON EAST
Staff Reporter

 

Boom.

 

That is the sound thousands of students waited anxiously to hear after bomb threats were made at Louisiana State University, North Dakota State University, University of Texas at Austin and Hiram College in Cleveland, Ohio, over the past few weeks.

 

According to a New York Times article Sept. 17, approximately 100,000 people were evacuated between the universities. The evacuations lasted between five and seven hours.

 

“In all three cases, campus-wide evacuations were ordered and police officers conducted sweeps,” the article said about NDSU, UT Austin and Hiram College. “Students and faculty and staff members returned hours later.”

 

Threats at these universities have called attention to the possibility of bomb threats closer to home.

 

Randall Hermes, Tech police chief, said Tech is ready in the event a similar situation occurs.

 

“We’ve had to evacuate an area for a gas line before,” he said. “We had to make sure the buildings were evacuated and set out a perimeter of a couple of blocks. We’d just have to do that on a much larger scale if a bomb threat occurred.”

 

Vincent Bergeron, a senior electrical engineering major, said he does not foresee a bomb threat happening at Tech, but he’s prepared if it does.

 

“I’d follow directions they give through the Emergency Notification System,” he said.

 

Students can sign up for the emergency notification system through their BOSS accounts.

 

“We encourage students to register for the Emergency Notification System,” Hermes said. “We also encourage them to register their parents. We send out follow-up information that could be very helpful to parents who can’t get through on cell phones.”

 

After notifying the students and completing the evacuation, the next focus would be acquiring manpower for a bigger area, Hermes said.

 

“Closing off a road is closing off a road,” he said. “The first issue we may run into is how we relieve the people posted there. We’d need double the amount of people, and while that’s going on, we still have other things going on. It’s manpower intensive.”

 

Manpower on a small campus may not bother students like Bergeron, but Sara Beth Jacob, a sophomore biology major, does not see Tech’s size as a deterrent.

 

“We all think our campus is safe,” she said. “But realistically, this could happen anywhere. It takes one person to pick up the phone thinking it’s a joke, and suddenly we have an outbreak on our hands.”

 

Hermes said is confident our campus is safe but anything can happen.

 

“I wouldn’t have been surprised to receive a call that day,” he said. “I was expecting a call, but I’m glad that we didn’t because that’s a very serious crime.”

 

Bomb threats at Tech are possible, but other situations more likely to occur around Ruston could also force an evacuation, Hermes said.

 

“It could be a train derailment,” he said. “There could be a hazmat spill. Neighborhoods may have to be evacuated as well. We’ve worked through those scenarios. It’s doable.”

 

Both train derailments and bomb threats carry devastating possibilities, but only one can carry a jail sentence.

 

“It’s counted as terrorism,” Hermes said. “It’s not something anyone would take lightly. It’s not a joking matter at all.”

 

Boom.

 

That is the sound thousands of students anxiously await as bomb squads pour over their campus — or it could be the sound one prank caller hears as the judge slams down his gavel.

 

Email comments to ace007@latech.edu.

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