University efficiently handled bomb scare

Although a caller’s report of a bomb in Coffman Union never surfaced, an explosion of another sort has occurred on campus recently. A bomb threat that forced Coffman officials to close the student union early last week raised a few angry eyebrows. This was clearly an unusual and isolated incident, but it tested the University’s ability to handle a potentially critical and dangerous situation. Some criticized how the University controlled the situation, citing lack of student safety as their primary concern. However, officials did the right thing by evacuating and closing the building when they did. University officials should be applauded for their calm and timely management of these potentially life-threatening circumstances.
The Minneapolis Bomb Squad received an unidentified call at 9:36 a.m. last Wednesday about a bomb in the student union. After being told that the bomb would detonate in 10 hours, Coffman and University officials met and decided to close the union at 6 p.m. With the aid of a bomb-sniffing dog, police searched the building, but found nothing suggesting the existence of a bomb. Just in case, the administration gave the green light to evacuate the building.
Police told students about the bomb threat and asked them to leave Coffman. While many students distanced themselves far from the student union, some lingered outside the building. University officials waited nearly nine hours to completely clear the location. This did not cut too close to the estimated 10-hour detonation time and did not force a hasty and unprepared response either. The timeliness of this decision allowed officials to discuss the matter with all appropriate parties, to search the building, and to encourage patrons to evacuate without causing unnecessary panic. Rushing patrons out of Coffman would have sparked fear and suspicion and led to an endless and unproductive barrage of questions that officials had no time to answer.
Some students complained about the inconvenience of Coffman activities being canceled because of the early closing. Although this was an understandable frustration, the University’s concern for student safety should be acknowledged in the context of its difficult, but necessary, decision. Had the threat been real, and had Coffman not been cleared of student patronage, many lives would have been in danger. The precautions taken in response to the bomb scare justified any minor inconvenience. Rescheduling events should be far preferred to the unthinkable alternative of facing the consequences of a possible bomb detonation.
The most important factor in situations such as this is prevention, and the University stopped a potential disaster. Some will argue the University was overly cautious in its efforts to evacuate the student union. Others will claim the University waited too long to clear the building, thereby endangering students’ lives. Every precaution was taken to ensure the safety of the union’s patrons without acting prematurely. To the best of their abilities, officials worked with the utmost discretion and caution to protect students’ interests and safety. This event serves as a standard for how the University should handle similar situations.