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APSU receives bomb threat; wise judgment and calm prevail

October 22, 2001

On Wednesday, Oct. 10, a student working the APSU switchboard received a call in which the person said simply, "There's a bomb at Austin Peay."

The student-worker had been trained to ask specific questions if such a threat is made, but the caller hung up before the questions could be asked.

The threat was reported immediately to President Sherry Hoppe, who quickly notified TBR staff, then met with the vice presidents to discuss whether to evacuate campus. They discussed various scenarios. "If we closed the University, would it be for one hour, one day, one week? Where would we evacuate everyone? It would have to be off campus, but where?" Hoppe said.

Within approximately 15 minutes, Hoppe and the vice presidents decided the bomb threat was too nonspecific to put the University's Emergency Preparedness Plan into action. "Given all the facts, we didn't think the situation warranted campuswide notification or evacuation," said Bob Adams, vice president for finance and administration.

A number of staff members were asked to walk through all campus buildings and look for anything suspicious. "Nothing was found," Hoppe said.

Local law enforcement agencies were not notified. "The lack of specificity would have required more personnel and more bomb-sniffing dogs than local agencies would have been able to provide," Hoppe said.

Effective immediately, permanent staff will be operating the University switchboard. APSU's Emergency Preparedness Plan, which was written in late 1999, is being evaluated in light of homeland dangers that have surfaced recently.

Adams said, "The most important thing we can do is to be more aware of our surroundings. Be alert to anything that looks suspicious. If you see something out of the ordinary, notify Campus Security immediately.

"As President Bush has said many times, we must continue our day-to-day business and not let undue fear prevent us. At the same time, we at Austin Peay have an obligation to protect our students, faculty and staff as much as possible.

"Therefore, everyone on campus must raise his and her level of awareness. If anyone sees something unusual, don't hesitate to call Campus Security."