Auburn threat sheds light on campus safety


In the past two weeks, two different threats have shut down Auburn University. On Wednesday, April 16, the campus closed in response to a threat written in a campus restroom that promised a “rampage of biblical proportions.” Similarly, a bomb threat on Tuesday, April 22, led to the closing of the university’s Haley Center, a 10-story building housing classrooms and the university bookstore.

While neither of these threats became a reality, they are a reminder that a violent attack can happen on any college campus. The number of people living on, working at or visiting a campus can make it difficult for campus safety officers to respond to these threats.

Student cooperation is invaluable during these threats. At Auburn, students were the first to find the threat and alerted administrators.

“The hardest thing is getting good information, and students can provide that because they know more of what’s going on at this university than anybody else,” Director of Public Safety Wayne Pittman said. “If you see something, say something.”

Pittman encouraged students to report any suspicious activity, even if it turns out to be a false alarm.

“We don’t mind going on calls that don’t amount to a whole lot if somebody’s suspicious. We’d much rather go than not go,” Pittman said.

Though Pittman said he has not seen any credible threats during his time at Samford, the Department of Public Safety still has protocols in place for any potentially violent situations.

If someone made an anonymous threat at Samford, the public safety officers’ first job would be attempting to track down the threat’s source and to talk to them, in hopes of finding a peaceful resolution. Even if the threat seems implausible, Pittman said the Department of Public Safety would put faculty on alert and have more officers on duty.

In the event of a credible threat, Public Safety and the university vice presidents would determine the best course of action. Once a decision has been made, they would be in immediate contact with students and faculty to share information so they can make the best choices for their safety.

“Samford is a safe campus, but it’s only as safe as we make it. And that’s everybody, that’s not just us because we can only do so much,” Pittman said.

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