Students and faculty were encouraged to avoid Science I Friday after a professor was stabbed, yet classes were not closed and the building was not shut down until later that day.
Though throughout the history of Binghamton University individual buildings have been closed and secured in response to emergency reports, there has never been a complete campus lockdown, and, according to officials, there most likely never will.
“It would be very hard to do this [lock down the campus],” said Lt. Madeline Bay of Binghamton’s New York State University Police. “It is impossible to tell everyone or even to lock down buildings. There are thousands of doors that would need to be locked and guarded.”
According to Dave Hubeny, the University’s emergency manager, the most important thing during an emergency is to get the word out and communicate.
Forms of emergency communication on campus include the emergency alert system, which sends messages to campus e-mail addresses and registered cell phones, an outdoor siren, campus television channel 42, electronic message boards at the entrance to campus and in dining halls and the B-Line listserv.
Bay added that on Friday, many students, faculty and staff members received Rave Alert text messages. But because not everyone was signed up for them, not everyone got word of the situation.
“The alert said for people to avoid Science I because of the police operation; it was not a safety thing,” Hubeny, said. “The decision of what the people already in the building should do was made by the police at the scene. [They cleared] the building following their own policies.”
Hubeny said that each situation is different, which is why a universal protocol would not be effective.
“We rely on [communication] since it is not possible for a policy to tell us what to do and how to safely react since every incident is different,” Hubeny said.
The outdoor siren, which was built on campus in 2006, has never been used in an actual situation, but its purpose is to reach people who are outdoors and inform them to seek shelter.
According to Hubeny, the best example of when the siren would be used is in the case of severe weather coming into the area.
The emergency alert system, also added in 2006, currently has approximately 15,300 e-mail addresses and more than 6,000 phone numbers in its database.
“Thirty eight percent of existing accounts have entered a mobile number for text alerts,” Hubeny said. “We can’t require people to give us their cell number, but we can educate people what this system is for and how to sign up. A lot of parents do receive texts, but have to be registered under their student’s account.”
According to Bay, Friday’s fatal stabbing of professor emeritus Richard Antoun, was “quite random” and something that has to be accepted as a random act of violence. She also said that the last murder that occurred on campus was at least 30 years ago, when a student was murdered in the Tillman Lobby of the Old University Union.
Other incidents of violence at BU include a report on Sept. 27, 1977, at approximately 10:27 p.m., that an undergraduate female was assaulted and raped in a wooded location on campus. No name of the victim or perpetrator was released, according to a report from Pipe Dream on Sep. 30 of that year, but the perpetrator was said to be wielding a knife.
Several students have been severely injured in fights over the years, she said, but there have been no “downright attacks” in the manner of the Dec. 4 incident.
According to Bay, the University decided to partially arm University police in early 1999. As of Jan. 1 of that year, the University Law Enforcement Division, which then oversaw BU, became the State University Police.
During this time these officers were given “police officer status,” and since the officers were “doing the police job,” they were provided the tools, with limitations, Bay said.
The discussion to arm campus security was first brought up in 1973 when the effectiveness of the security forces on State University of New York campuses was under review. At that time, officers on the University at Albany campus were being selectively armed.
Then-BU President C. Peter Magrath said that the arming of security at BU was unnecessary, according to a Pipe Dream report from Oct. 1973.