University needs to institute protection against threats

By Elizabeth Bacharach

Opinions Editor

As a student who attended a high school that was inundated with bomb threats, I found myself somewhat scoffing at the University of Pittsburgh’s current issue. Since Feb. 13, the university has received 57 bomb threats, including 12 on Monday alone. Now, it might just be that I am jaded—sick of hearing about students calling out in desperate need of attention by scribbling words they’ve seen in a recent terror movie on a bathroom stall—that my first reaction to the issue occurring in Pittsburgh was disgust. But as I thought more deeply on the subject matter, I became ashamed of my initial instinct and actually formed new feelings toward what is occurring. I then considered what it would be like if such an issue hit our campus.

I understand that the University of Pittsburgh has been extremely considerate to the students on campus, taking each threat into profound deliberation by investigating and clearing the issue (as much as they can).  Students are welcomed to speak to psychiatric services and even return home if necessary.  The University of Pittsburgh can also be distinguished recently by the extensive lines spanning their campus due to the newly instituted regulations, requiring each student and staff member to show ID and have their bags searched before entering any campus building.  What would we do if any potential crises popped our bubble?

I will be the first to admit that I am overtly nervous, every second of the day, far too frequently. Once my high school was hit by threats I entered every classroom planning my method of escape or hiding, no matter the given emergency. But as I said earlier, I soon became jaded, sick of these (thankfully) non-committal threats.  However, Pittsburgh’s recent issue has me wondering who walks our campus and what their intentions are.

It is truly impossible to keep track of every person that tracks the pathways of the University.  Because of possible threats–like those at Pittsburgh–I think our University should institute drills for situations such as a bomb scares or a suspicious person sightings should they hit our campus. Students and faculty alike should recognize a certain code word, whether it be red, blue, or bison, and know what steps to take for protection and safety. These drills should be practiced monthly, awakening students in their automatic daily lives, making the situation as real as possible. These drills will further allow students to be conscientious of those people around them and feel confident, not scared, if they see a suspicious person.  How should students learn of what actions to take? Well, if the University can provide students with signs that say “wait, did you shut off the light?” then signs equally as obnoxiously green and poignant should be distributed and hung up detailing courses of action, numbers to call, and definitions of all codes. These actions are so simple and so efficient that I truly cannot understand why the University has yet to take such protective steps in these overarching times of terror.

Sometimes ignorance is not bliss.  It truly frightens me that as a student, I have no idea of what to do if there was a bomb scare or a threat of any kind.  Now I am not saying that we are the next University of Pittsburgh, but it wouldn’t hurt to be safe and knowledgeable in case it does happen to us.

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