Lately it seems that watching the nightly news is more like watching a horror movie. With every viewing, the impression is made that violence is on the rise. Although we would like to believe that violence on the news can’t happen here in Normal, incidents like last week’s bomb threat make that illusion far from reality.
As everyone knows, a note was discovered in a bathroom in Schroeder Hall threatening that a bomb would soon be placed in the building. Whether it was a prank or not is irrelevant, as security measures were necessary to ensure the safety of every Illinois State student. Police officers and trained dogs searched the building, and throughout the week, students’ bags were checked as they entered Schroeder.
While all those involved with security attempted to be as thorough as possible, I believe continuing to have class for students in Schroeder put many at risk. When examining these risks, I think that classes in Schroeder should have been canceled.
First, I would like to say I believe the police who searched the building and checked bags did an excellent job under the circumstances. I also think that President Flanagan handled the situation very well, as I am sure having to deal with a bomb threat so soon into his presidency was no easy task.
While both Flanagan and security took the threat very seriously, I personally think that continuing to have class in Schroeder was a safety hazard. As tragedies such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have shown us, terrible crimes can happen anywhere, and the maximum amount of precaution should always be taken, including canceling classes.
I am never an advocate for missing class, but exceptions need to be made when students’ safety is at risk. While security did a great job searching bags, the reality is that someone still could have snuck something in their bag, or somewhere on their body for that matter. I am sure security guards are trained to conduct these searches thoroughly, but there is always a margin for error. The risk was simply too great, and if someone was really determined, it is possible that they could have evaded security.
While it is clear now that having class continue did not result in any harm and the note that was found was likely a prank, nothing was certain last week. A few professors canceled their classes anyway, despite having the green light to continue, and for those students who still had to attend, some were uneasy. Students who fear a bomb threat will obviously have a tough time focusing on any material being taught, making the case for canceling class even stronger.
To make matters worse, freshmen were experiencing their first week of college classes, and some were not ready to handle this type of a situation.
“I didn’t know what to expect … I just felt uneasy,” Alexis Boddy, a freshman and undeclared major who attended classes last week in Schroeder, said. I find it hard to imagine how tough it must have been for freshmen to attend class under these circumstances as well as for their parents. Out of consideration for freshmen, allowing them to miss their Schroeder classes should have at least been an option.
Handling a bomb threat is never easy, and Flanagan and ISU security did a fine job dealing with the situation. Fortunately, the threat seems to have ended and the school climate has started to return to normal. However, that doesn’t change the fact that having mandatory classes on the day of and directly following a bomb threat puts every student in danger.
It is not my intention to make anyone unnecessarily fearful to attend class, but I do think a new conversation about how to handle bomb threats and similar situations needs to occur. While canceling class may encourage more of these types of threats, the safety of ISU students should always be a priority. There are too many risks involved to still have class during situations such as these, and I think the course of action for future threats needs to be reevaluated.
Nick Ulferts is a junior English education major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments on his column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.