Pitt stays opened despite bomb threats

By The Pitt News Staff

Pitt received 12 bomb threats this weekend.

Despite the disruptions to campus and dorm life,… Pitt received 12 bomb threats this weekend.

Despite the disruptions to campus and dorm life, Pitt officials say the University will remain open.

On Saturday, Frick Fine Arts, the Music Building, the Cathedral of Learning, Litchfield Towers and Forbes, Sutherland and Holland halls all received bomb threats. The dormitories did not reopen until late Saturday night.

At the time of publication, the Cathedral of Learning had not yet been cleared.

On Sunday morning, Hillman Library, Sennott Square and Benedum Hall all received threats.

This weekend’s threats bring the total count for the semester to 45.

Pitt officials sent out multiple statements over the weekend regarding the threats.

On Friday, Chancellor Mark Nordenberg issued a statement praising Pitt’s handling of the threats and letting the community know that the University will remain open. However, any student that wishes to leave campus can do so.

“Any student who feels that leaving campus before the end of the academic term is the best alternative can make that decision, and we will do our best to facilitate the completion of his or her remaining academic responsibilities,” Nordenberg said in the statement.

Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia Beeson sent a letter to Pitt faculty asking them to waive their attendance policies for the rest of the semester even though classes will still be held. She suggests that professors use make-up classes and websites like Courseweb and WebEx to help students make up coursework.

Freshman Laura Yu already had her bag packed with snacks and supplies when the alarms went off in Forbes Hall on Saturday night.

“Our RA evacuated us. I just told my mom [about the threats] two days ago. She told me right away to come home if I didn’t feel safe, but I’m an engineering major,” she said, explaining that she couldn’t afford to miss classes. “My mom is freaking out.”

Yu’s roommate, Annmarie Grant, also an engineering major, said that she hasn’t been able to focus on her schoolwork with all the threats.

“It feels like everything is so surreal at this point. We aren’t focused on homework,” Grant said. “I colored all day and watched Korean television.”

David J. Hickton, United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, issued a statement Friday about the bomb threats at Pitt, noting that he has enlisted the help of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the Pitt police as a contributing member, to find the source of the threats.

“The safety and welfare of the University of Pittsburgh community is a top priority. The bomb threats since Feb. 13, 2012, are being vigorously, aggressively and thoroughly investigated through every possible means,” the statement said.

Hickton also praised the University community’s handling of the threats.

“The University of Pittsburgh is exercising appropriate regard for safety through its notification system and through evacuations when threats are received and evaluated, while refusing to allow such threats to paralyze the entire University community in its pursuit of learning and teaching,” the statement said.

Hickton said that he cannot comment on the specifics of the investigation but that he is continuing to work with Pitt and the FBI to investigate the criminal activity.

Editor’s Note: The Pitt News bomb threat count includes each building in Litchfield Towers as a separate threat.