Pitt: No Evacuation During Finals Unless There is an 'Imminent Threat'
The university's provost and senior vice chancellor announced special arrangements for finals week Sunday.
The University of Pittsburgh on Sunday announced on its website that special arrangements have been made regarding finals week in the wake of the recent bomb threats, and local students continue to hope for some relief.
“These arrangements reflect the expert advice we have received from law enforcement professionals, the experience we have gained over the last several weeks, and the special circumstances associated with finals week,” wrote Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson. “They are designed to decrease levels of disruption, even while maintaining appropriately high levels of security, given our recent circumstances.”
In the letter, Beeson said that all final exams for undergraduates will be administered in one of five buildings: Alumni Hall, Benedum Hall, the Cathedral of Learning, Chevron Science Center or the David Lawrence Hall.
“Security will be heightened for these five exam buildings. Starting (today) these five buildings will be swept for explosives prior to the beginning of each exam day, and there will be increased security both when exams are being taken and when the buildings are occupied,” the provost’s letter continued. “Individuals will be allowed to enter these buildings only with valid Pitt ID cards, and all bags will be checked thoroughly.”
Any messages received that include a threat to one of those five buildings will be assessed by law enforcement professionals—and the buildings will be evacuated and alerts sent “only if it is determined that there is an imminent threat.”
The letter stated, “Even if it’s determined that there is no imminent threat, buildings will be promptly swept for explosives, with no immediate evacuation.”
Starting tonight, the residence halls will also be swept nightly for explosives during finals week—and access to the buildings will be restricted to those with valid Pitt ID.
If a threat to the residence halls is received, university officials said it will be assessed by law enforcement officials and if it is deemed not to be an imminent threat, a message will be sent alerting members of the community that “a threat has been received but is not deemed to be genuine, and that evacuation is voluntary not mandatory.”
If the threat is deemed to be imminent, the alarms in the building will sound, a message will be sent out and the building will be evacuated.
Several local Pitt students have expressed their frustrations about the situation over the last few months.
Kayla Long, a Pitt freshman and Riverview High School graduate, moved out of her dorm when the bomb threats started. She's been commuting to school each day.
"A lot of people have left campus, but many students are still carrying on through all the new security measures and constant bomb threats," she said. "We are all proud of being part of the University of Pittsburgh and are fully supporting our police officers in the investigation."
It seems to that the motive of the threats it to just cause inconvenience for and cost the university a lot of money. However, the scary thing is is that you can't be 100 percent sure that nothing life threatening is going to happen."
Caitlin Yorio of Verona is graduating from Pitt at the end of the semester. She said it's been hard to focus on presentations, projects and studying for finals because of the bomb threats.
"I hope they catch the person [sending the bomb threats] before graduation in a few weeks so nobody is getting evacuated then," she said.
Long said she also hopes for a resolution.
"Honestly, I am not going to feel better until the investigation is closed," she said. "I, along with the entire Pitt community, just want the bomb threats to end. Only when they are over for good will I feel better."
Editor’s Note: To read the entire letter, see the attached PDF file.