After a professor found a bomb threat note in a Neuberger Hall men’s bathroom around noon yesterday, Campus Public Safety and other administrators leapt into action, evacuating and searching the hall immediately. Nothing was found and the building was reopened at 5:30 p.m. The note read: “There will be a detonation in Neuberger Hall at 4:30 p.m.,” according to PSU spokesperson Julie Smith. By 12:15 p.m., the building was empty and at 12:40 p.m., caution tape had been put up to ward off students and staff trying to enter Neuberger Hall.
After a professor found a bomb threat note in a Neuberger Hall men’s bathroom around noon yesterday, Campus Public Safety and other administrators leapt into action, evacuating and searching the hall immediately. Nothing was found and the building was reopened at 5:30 p.m.
The note read: “There will be a detonation in Neuberger Hall at 4:30 p.m.,” according to PSU spokesperson Julie Smith. By 12:15 p.m., the building was empty and at 12:40 p.m., caution tape had been put up to ward off students and staff trying to enter Neuberger Hall.
All classes held in Neuberger Hall that started at, or before 5:30 p.m.,were canceled while teams swept the building, looking for a possible bomb. The building was reopened at 5:30 p.m., after it was confirmed that there was no bomb in the building. Campus Public Safety Chief Mike Soto said staff members remained at the doors of the building to notify students and staff of the neutralized threat.
“I was in Neuberger when I went to go get lunch, and when I got back to the building five minutes later, people were being herded outside and everyone was talking about a bomb threat,” said Luke Lilly, a graduate student at PSU. “It was havoc, but they were really working to get everyone out of there fast, which is good, I suppose.”
Kristina Coy, a PSU sophomore and former ASPSU legislative affairs director, said she was about to enter Neuberger Hall at 12:10 p.m., when she was approached by a Campus Public Safety officer and told not to enter the building.
“I already happened to be leaving, but there were a good 10 or 15 minutes between when I was outside of Neuberger and when other students started pouring out of the building,” Coy said. She said she was basically stranded on campus all afternoon during the lockdown because she could not get to her Neuberger locker, which had her wallet, keys and buss pass in it.
Coy said Campus Public Safety didn’t tell her that a bomb threat was the reason for evacuation, and that she didn’t know of the threat until someone in a crowd outside Neuberger Hall told her.
After the evacuation
Smith said that details regarding exactly what the threat said and which professor found it could not be discussed as of press time.
During the press conference, Soto said that officers involved with the search took the threat very seriously and that the Portland Police Bureau assisted in the search for a bomb.
Portland Police finished their search just before the university held a press conference about the threat at 2 p.m. A second sweep of Neuberger Hall was made soon after the conference, Soto said. No official bomb squad was on site during the Neuberger Hall lock down.
When asked during the press conference about the level of bomb detection and disarming training that campus safety officers receive, Soto said they receive the same training as Portland Police officers.
While the search was being conducted, a fire alarm was pulled in the Smith Memorial Student Union, which neighbors Neuberger Hall on the north side. The alarm was pulled around 2:30 p.m.
During the press conference, an audience member asked Soto about PSU’s handling of a previous bomb threat in October, which the Vanguard reported on. [“Bomb threat: late notice causes student concern,” Oct. 27]. Information about that threat was not sent out to members of the student body or staff until hours after the threat was made, raising concerns from some about PSU’s handling of the threat.
Soto refused to comment on the previous threat, but said that Campus Public Safety made the bomb threat it’s priority. Numerous e-mail updates about the threat were sent out to students and staff throughout the afternoon by Portland State.
Mark Gregory, assistant vice president of Finance and Administration who was among the leaders of the incident response team, said he was satisfied with the turnaround time between when the threat was realized and when Neuberger Hall was evacuated.
“Within a few minutes of being notified, we were evacuating and working fast to clear Neuberger, and everyone on the response team did a great job,” he said. “We didn’t over- or under-react, and I think today’s threat was a good indicator of our ability to manage a crisis at PSU.”
Beginning next term, PSU plans to implement a new emergency contact system through National Notification Network, or 3N. The system will use text messages and e-mails to immediately contact students and staff who opt into the system, in the event of an emergency. Gregory said that Monday’s threat is proof that PSU needs such a system.
“I think today shows that contacting anyone who may be in harm’s way immediately is vital to our function as a university,” he said. “This threat probably opened a few eyes, so hopefully most students will opt into the program.”