By Jeff McCallister
When the FBI notified Ohio State officials Nov. 16 that it had received an e-mailed bomb threat, OSU Police and Public Safety officers immediately acted to evacuate the buildings involved — Macpherson, Scott and Smith labs and the Thompson Library.
Outwardly, the event ended at about 9 p.m. that night when officials finished their sweep of the library and gave the all-clear to reopen. The other buildings had re-opened by 5 or 6 that evening. No suspicious packages were found in any of the buildings.
But that was only the start of the event for numerous constituencies around Ohio State.
The incident is still under investigation by the FBI and OSU police, according to OSU Chief Paul Denton, and there’s no way to tell how long it will take to wrap up.
Meanwhile, faculty and students returned to their routine of teaching and attending classes — including in the buildings that had been the targets of the threat.
While police assured the campus that no one ever was in actual danger, at least a few students were nervous to return to classes there — especially that evening.
Amy Bonomi, associate professor of human development and family science, said her class took up a discussion of some of the issues. She said while numerous jokes about the incident began circulating around campus (“Someone really wanted to get out of an exam”), all 80 students in the class felt apprehensive about returning to class right away, and said they all expressed their desire for closure by seeking answers.
But the reaction of Bonomi’s students and others is a natural one, according to Robert Meier, director of the University Faculty and Staff Assistance Program.
“Whenever there’s a situation like that, different people are affected in different ways,” Meier said. “Clearly people can suffer from the affects of a stressful situation, even if that situation turns out to be benign. In this case, there was an evacuation, it affected a large group of people and it got some national attention. Even though very little actually happened other than an inconvenience, there are people who are genuinely affected by it.”
Sign up for Buckeye Alert emergency notifications
Ohio State has a number of ways to communicate with faculty, staff, students and parents in the event of an urgent situation. These include a variety of notification vehicles such as WOSU AM, OSU Today e-mail, the Ohio State website (osu.edu) and local media outlets.
The university also has a text message alert system. Faculty, students, staff and parents are encouraged to register their cell phone numbers with the OSU Department of Public Safety. To learn more and to register, go to buckeyealert.osu.edu.