Campus Reopens After Online Threat

Northern reopened and resumed classes today, but it wasn’t necessarily a return to normalcy.

“Clearly, parents and students are still worried,” said NMU President Les Wong, who is pictured with Mike Bath (Public Safety) at a media briefing this morning. “It takes time to readjust. You don’t just turn the switch off and go back to normal right away. But I want to assure everyone that we would not in any way have considered opening up today without being confident that the situation was secure.”

Wong said a turn in the investigation prompted the decision. An area “person of interest” was questioned and released, and later cleared by the FBI after it was discovered that similarly worded blog posts had been directed at other universities across the country. The new information, combined with a lack of evidence that the threatening message originated locally, diminished the threat to NMU.

Bath said there will be a number of debriefings over the next couple of weeks to assess and refine the university’s response and its collaboration with local agencies.

“In Presidents 101 you talk about emergency situations, but it’s much different when you experience one,” Wong said. “It went well and I hope it’s the last time in my career we do this. My biggest surprise yesterday was the speed at which news goes across the country. I received congratulatory notes and text offers of help. Gov. Snyder and his staff were on the phone right away offering any state services to assist. Our senators and congressman also checked in.

“It was awe-inspiring for me to see our campus emergency protocols implemented so effectively. We have evidence of faculty being flexible with regard to attendance today for students who may have been uncomfortable returning to class. I also heard a story yesterday of an employee who was helping people get to their cars so they could leave campus. A pregnant student was struggling to put her key in her car door and she broke the key in the lock. The employee told her she shouldn’t worry about the car and he gave her a ride home. When I heard that, I thought, that’s what makes Northern a magical place. I thanked that employee and said, ‘You represent the very best of our campus.’”

To see the full video remarks from Wong and Bath, visit Media Briefing.



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Updated: February 4, 2011

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