A decision to cancel classes at Ferris State University during the recent bomb threat would have been an inappropriate method of ensuring campus security.
Shortly after being informed of the bomb threat via phone message at the Timme Center for Student Services’ Business Office, public safety officials began investigating campus buildings. After a complete investigation of campus buildings, university officials did not find any evidence of explosives nor did they receive any more communication regarding the bomb threat. FSU officials regarded the threat as lacking credibility and no events have occurred that can validate the existence of a bomb ever being located on campus.
The message initially received regarding the bomb threat did not specify if the bomb was planted in a classroom or residence hall. Therefore, canceling classes would not have alleviated the threat or have ensured students would be any safer in their residence halls or other campus facilities. The university took proper action in informing students of the threat and continuing to update the campus with new information and emergency resources.
It’s unfortunately becoming a more common practice for students to make threats against a school in hopes of disrupting classes and getting out of schoolwork. Allowing classes to be canceled due to an unspecified bomb threat would have possibly created campus hysteria and fed into the intentions of the perpetrator. This would have created a heightened number of campus bomb threats from an increase in students expecting to have a day off classes.
An appropriate means of efficiently handling a campus-wide bomb threat would be to create criteria for faculty and staff to perform individual bomb searches of their offices and classrooms. Designing a classroom checklist of ways to handle calls relating to bomb threats and searching procedures would be a more beneficial practice than telling students to go home at the first sign of a threat.
A number of colleges and universities around the country are unprepared for handling campus bomb threats. This is mostly due to a lack of procedural information trickling down from safety officials to university staff. If FSU expects to ensure university safety, the answer doesn’t lie in requesting students evacuate classrooms. It should lie in creating a bomb threat plan of action that disburses procedural information to the entire campus and gives decision-making power to individuals at the university.