Statewide bomb threat closes NWC for a day
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After receiving a questionable statewide bomb threat, the NWC administration shut everything down on campus.
On Sept. 22, President Stefani Hicswa said she received notice of a bomb threat from the Governor’s office, which first received it from Homeland Security. The threat was sent via email with threats of using weapons of mass destruction. Hicswa said there wasn’t a chance to see if it was a hoax, so the NWC administration decided to close campus and postpone events.
“For the safety of everyone on campus and in following our emergency procedures canceling classes and closing for the day was prudent while we checked buildings and learned more about the situation,” Hicswa said.
Other than the few local community colleges that closed, neither of the local school districts closed campus or canceled classes. The University of Wyoming still held class and campus events.
The administration closed all campus buildings, and classes were canceled until the following day. All resident students were under lock down in resident halls until 1:54 p.m. and all of the staff members were sent home.
“This situation showed me that we are very prepared and that we can respond quickly,” Hicswa said. “I was pleased with how people responded and I am very proud of our incident command team and how they handled this situation. The team in charge of the residence halls even went so far as to have lunch delivered for those students who had not eaten yet. That shows real care and concern for the well-being of students, not just their safety.”
Although there was some question about whether the threat was true, everyone still did as instructed by the administration. Students who were both on and off campus were affected by the threat. Freshman Bekah Loberg wasn’t on campus at the time of the threat, but she still received the phone call and texts from the college.
“It was kind of scary, but at the same time I didn’t think it was that threatening to our school,” Loberg said. “I thought our school handled the threat very well so I felt safe.”
Although Loberg wasn’t on campus, she said she knew what to expect once she was back on campus. This situation showed that there may still be things that NWC in whole can improve upon in an emergency.
“I learned that it is important to follow directions and do what they tell us to do, just in case the threat was bigger than it was,” Loberg said.
After some of the students may have been shaken by the threat, there was no doubt for Hicswa that classes shouldn’t be resumed that day. The people on campus used the break from classes as a time to relax and get caught up on homework.
“I have been asked why we didn’t resume classes after the lock in was lifted,” Hicswa said. “Since we had allowed employees to go home, the logistics of getting everyone back on campus would not have been feasible. As a president my responsibility is for the safety of our students and employees. Making a decision to close campus and have a bomb threat turn out to be a hoax is much better than the alternative scenario.”