Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge became the latest university forced to evacuate due to a bomb threat on Monday—three days after three other colleges temporarily shut down their campuses for the same reason. At about 11:30 a.m. local time LSU posted a message on their website saying, “A bomb threat has been reported on the LSU Campus. Please evacuate as calmy and quickly as possible.”
No further update has been posted since, but a local news site reported that traffic near campus immediately resembled the congestion that would be seen following a Saturday football game. The threat follows three others reported on Friday at the University of Texas at Austin, North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. and Hiram College, a private liberal arts college located in Hiram, Ohio. All three schools evacuated their campuses after they received seemingly unrelated bomb threats from unknown callers.
As I wrote in my story on bomb threats in college campuses over the weekend, even though the LSU threat is likely a hoax, as was the case in Texas, N.D. and Ohio, in a post-Virginia Tech world, the school had almost no choice but to respond as if the threat was credible.
In 2008, after the shooting at Virginia Tech the year prior, Congress beefed up the Clery Act, which requires universities to disclose the amount of crime on campus. New stipulations call for colleges to have an official emergency plan, including a procedure to immediately notify the campus community in the event of an emergency. “Al-Qaeda does not typically call you in advance, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to take threats very seriously,” said S. Daniel Carter, a campus safety expert who runs the 32 National Campus Safety Index.
Active shooter drills and test evacuations are now a typical part of college life. And while that is certainly not to be discouraged, in being prepared to respond quickly to any threat, colleges run the risk of their students observing warnings with less urgency. In part, that is because the vast majority of bomb threats turn out to be fake.
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